November is Native American Heritage Month, an opportunity to learn, celebrate, and honor the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and history of Indigenous people across America. We acknowledge the important contributions of Native people.
Native American Heritage Month started as a one-day "American Indian Day" celebration in New York, May 1916. Red Fox James, from Blackfoot Nation, rode horseback from state to state to gather endorsements to put in place a day to honor Native Americans. This has evolved today designating November as Native American Heritage month.
As of 2021, there are 347 federally recognized tribes within the contiguous 48 states and 227 federally recognized tribal entities within the state of Alaska. This brings the total number of federally recognized Native Tribes in the United States to 574. Additionally, it is estimated that approximately 175 indigenous languages are still spoken today.
What is politically correct? "Native American" and "Indigenous" are more respectful and preferred terms because, "American Native" or "Indian" can hold oppressive and racist undertones. However, it's important to note that many Indigenous individuals also prefer to be addressed by their specific tribal affiliation, Indigenous community, or nation of people, such as Diné (Navajo) or Alaska Native. Respecting individual preferences and using inclusive language is crucial in promoting understanding and cultural sensitivity.
Here are some ways to increase awareness and educate yourself about the diversity of Native Americans in both the past and present: 1. Take a moment to explore the Native American history in your local area. 2. Read up on Native American history to gain a deeper understanding. 3. Discover Indigenous artists and explore their work. 4. Visit a Native American museum to learn more about their culture and heritage. 5. Attend a Powwow event to experience the rich traditions and celebrations. 6. Enjoy the music and sounds of Indigenous musicians and songwriters, appreciating their unique contributions. By engaging in these activities, you can expand your knowledge and appreciation for the rich diversity of Native American cultures.