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 constitutes the 574 federally recognized Native Tribes of the United States. Approximately 175 indigenous languages remain 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, many Indigenous also prefer to be addressed by tribal affiliation, Indigenous community, or nation of people, such as Diné (Navajo), Alaska Native, etc.
Here are ways to increase awareness and self educate about the diversity of Native Americans in the past and present. Take a moment to explore the Native American history in your local area. Read up on Native American history. Discover Indigenous artists and their work. Venture out to a Native American museum. Check out a Powwow event. Enjoy the music and sounds of Indigenous musicians and songwriters.