Native American Heritage Month
Native American Heritage Month
One of earliest recorded attempts to create a day of recognition for the contributions of “First Americans” dates back to 1912, when Dr. Arthur Caswell Parker (Seneca Nation), who founded several Indian rights organizations, persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to recognize “First Americans” Day, which they did for three years.
Three years later, Red Fox James (Blackfeet), rode his horse around the country to ultimately secure endorsements from 24 state governments in favor of a day honoring American Indians. Although he presented the resolutions to the White House on Dec. 14, 1915, the Library of Congress reports that there is no record of such a day ever being proclaimed.
That same year, at the annual Congress of the American Indian Association meeting in Lawrence, Kansas, the association’s president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge (Arapahoe Tribe) issued a proclamation declaring the second Saturday of each May as a day to recognize American Indians. The proclamation also included the first formal appeal to recognize Indians as citizens.
The following year, New York became the first state to recognize American Indian Day (also on the second Saturday in May).
In 1987, Congress called upon President Ronald Reagan to designate the week of November 22-28, 1987, as “American Indian Week.” By 1990, President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution proclaiming November as “National American Indian Heritage Month.”
Below, find a partial list of just some of the Native American Heritage Month celebrations occurring around the country in 2018.
(Image: Joseph Secody (Navajo Nation) and Tomas Hunt (Navajo Nation) // Courtesy of Yellow World Productions)
Rock Your Mocs
First established in 2011, the worldwide Rock Your Mocs events calls for American Indians and Alaska Natives to wear their moccasins on November 15 as part of Native American Heritage Month. Watch the tag #RockYourMocs on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to see how people celebrate across the country.
Find Travel Inspiration
If you’re looking to #DiscoverNativeAmerica, check out AIANTA’s Ten Native American Experiences for 2020. Or head over to NativeAmerica.travel to view even more Tribal Tourism experiences.
PBS Commemorates Native American Heritage Month
PBS celebrates the history, culture and traditions of American Indians and Alaska Natives in a special month-long collection of films, short stories and resources. www.pbs.org
National Park Service
The National Park Service maintains a year-long website of American Indian and Native American heritage, history and culture in National Parks across the country. For more information, visit nps.gov/americanindian
National Register of Historic Places
The official list of the nation’s historic places worthy of preservation, the National Register of Historic Places honors National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month on it’s website. The dedicated page showcases American Indian properties in travel itineraries, American Indian properties featured in Historic Places lesson plans and American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage in National Parks. Information can be found at nps.gov/subjects/nationalregister/national-american-indian-and-alaska-native-heritage-month.htm
Read a Good Book
Need something to read during Native American Heritage Month? Work your way through these reading lists by the First Nations Development Institute, a great Children’s Reading List at Medium.com, a list of Native American Heritage Month Books for Teens at the Chicago Public Library, as well as lists at Publishers Weekly, Goodreads and Scholastic.
Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI)
Sealaska Heritage Institute is sponsoring a series of lectures and special events throughout November. Select lectures include:
The Tlingit & Haida Indians of Alaska v. United States by Chris McNeil, a key decision that affected the trajectory of the final settlement of all Alaska Native land claims under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971.
Tee-Hit-Ton v. United States: A Case Study in Indigenous Injustice by Walter Echo-Hawk, an author, attorney and legal scholar, who discusses the 1955 Tee-Hit-Ton decision, where the Supreme Court upheld the federal government’s confiscation of Tlingit aboriginal land to create the Tongass National Forest without compensating the Alaska Native landowners.
Walter Soboleff Day: Commemorating Dr. Walter Soboleff, the late Tlingit spiritual leader.
The Molly Hootch Case: Rejection of Mandatory Boarding Schools in Favor of Local Secondary Schools by Bruce Twomley, an attorney who served as co-counsel on the case representing the plaintiff.
Herring Egg Distribution in Alaska: Generosity, Reciprocity, and Benefit Flows, exploring the sociocultural basis for Alaska’s unique Herring egg distribution economy and the multiple benefit flows that accompany herring egg distribution.
All lectures are free and open to the public. www.sealaskaheritage.org
Seneca Nation of Indians
In New York state, the Seneca Nation of Indians is hosting a number of celebrations throughout its casino properties. Among them, Haudenosaunee Native Dance Exhibitions are being staged on Nov. 2, 9 and 18 at the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino (5 p.m., 7 p.m.) and the Seneca Allegany Resort and Casino (4:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m.). Likewise, the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino will host dance performances on Nov. 7, 14 and 21 at 4 p.m. On Nov. 13, the community will gather at the Seneca Allegany Events Center for a community dinner and social. Each casino is also hosting a Seneca Art Market and food specials throughout the month. www.senecacasinos.com/NAHM
National Museum of the American Indian
The National Museum of the American Indian is rolling out a series of festivals, performances, screenings and talks in honor of Native American Heritage Month at its facilities in Washington, D.C. and New York City.
Among them,Native American Heritage Day: Family Fun Day on Friday, Nov. 29, showcases Native culture through interactive dancing, games, storytelling, hands-on activities and make-and-takes, as well as music and dance presentations. For more information, visit www.si.edu
Dance! Music! Arts! Culture!
Nov. 1-2, 2019; Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum; Big Cypress, Fla.
Every year in early November, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation hosts the annual American Indian Arts Celebration (AIAC). Enjoy traditional and contemporary arts and crafts, dance and music of the Seminole, Southeastern and other Indian tribes from across the country. Native American vendors, special presentations and wildlife shows round out the festivities. www.ahtahthiki.com
Puppet Show: Native American Folk Tales
Nov. 29, 2019; Library of Congress
The puppet show celebrates Native American History Month and Poet Laureate Joy Harjo by performing Native American tales from The Girl Who Helped Thunder and Other Native American Folktales and Turtle’s Race with Beaver, both by Joseph and James Bruchac. www.loc.gov
Native Rhythms Festival
Nov. 8-10, 2019; Melbourne, Fla.
The Indian River Flute Circle and Native Heritage Gathering, Inc. present the annual Native Rhythms Festival. The three-day event, held during Native American Heritage Month, honors the culture of the indigenous peoples of the Americas through music, with an emphasis on the music of the Native American Flute. nativerhythmsfestival.com
Storytelling: Julie Buffalohead
Nov. 23, 2019; Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Julie Buffalohead (Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma) creates visual narratives told by animal characters that have personhood, agency and individuality. Like all great storytellers, Buffalohead connects the mythical with the ordinary and the imaginary with the real, offering a space to which viewers can bring their own experiences. artsmia.org/native-american-heritage-month
Native American Heritage Month
Every year, the Student Life Multicultural Center at Ohio State University features programming celebrating and commemorating Native American Heritage Month. This year’s events include Alternative Thanksgiving on Nov. 5, 2019. This alternative celebration to the Thanksgiving holiday is sponsored collaboratively between the Native American Indigenous Peoples Cohort (NAIPC) and American Indian Student Initiatives (AISI).and gives Native American/Indigenous students an opportunity to celebrate their tribal communities. Traditional Indigenous foods will be served in addition to gluten-free and vegetarian options. Ohio State University.
Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center
For Native American Heritage Month, the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center in Seatle is offering a tour where participants will learn about the Takeover of Fort Lawton which led to the reclamation of land where Daybreak Star is located. Also included will be storytelling by renowned Northwest Native Storyteller Roger Fernandes. Tour programs are available Nov. 1, 6, 12, 14 and 18. unitedindians.org.
Los Angeles Public Library
Libraries throughout the Los Angeles Public Library system are celebrating Native American Heritage Month with individual events. Be sure to check out the American Indian Resource Center (AIRC) at the Huntington Park Branch. Established in 1979 to address informational needs of American Indians in Los Angeles County, the AIRC collection is the largest public library collection of its kind in the U.S. Materials include books, journals, encyclopedias, newspapers, microfilm, audiocassettes, CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes and 8, 16, 35 mm film, most of which can be checked out.
Select countywide events include Hoop Dancing with Terry Goedel, tribal dance and cultural presentatiosns, a showing of Lake of Betrayal: Seneca People Fighting to Protect Their Ancestral Lands and other hands-on activities. For a complete list, visit lacountylibrary.org/native-american-heritage-month/
Red Nation International Film Festival
The annual Red Nation International Film Festival (RNIFF), which runs Nov. 1-15, 2019, is dedicated to replacing American Indian stereotypes by introducing American Indian filmmakers to global mainstream audiences. Founded in 2003 by award-winning filmmaker, actor and member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Joanelle Romero, RNIFF also champions Native women in film and television. www.RedNationFF.com
American Indian Film Festival
Oct. 26-Nov. 2, 2019; San Francisco, California
This annual forum brings together artists, filmmakers, musicians and the general public to celebrate works produced by Native and non-native peoples that reflects authentic representation of Native people in the media. www.aifisf.com
American Indian Arts Marketplace
Nov. 9-10, 2019, The Autry Museum of the American West; Los Angles, California
The largest Native American arts fair in Southern California, the Autry’s American Indian Arts Marketplace features 200 Native American artists from more than 40 Tribal nations selling sculpture, pottery, beadwork, basketry, photography, paintings, jewelry, textiles, wooden carvings and mixed-media works from top Native American artists. Other activities include food, performances, children’s activities, artist demonstrations and the annual Short Play Festival from Native Voices, the Autry’s award-winning resident theatre company. theautry.org
Native Voices Annual Short Play Festival
Nov. 0-10, 2019; Wells Fargo Theater at The Autry Museum of the American West; Los Angeles, Calif.
Every year Native playwrights explore a different theme at the Autry’s Native Voices Short Play Festival. This year’s theme, “Bones, Bingo and Blackjack,” features thoughtful 10-minute readings from playwrights who investigate how gaming impacts relationships, power, and life itself in Native communities. theautry.org
LA Skins Fest
The annual LA Skins Fest, presented by Comcast/NBCUniversal, takes place Nov. 19-24, 2019 in Hollywood, California. This platform for emerging Native American actors, filmmakers, writers, directors and artists features Native-made movies, Q&As with Native filmmakers, panel discussions with industry professionals, Native American musical events and an award ceremony. Tribal partners include the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and the Santa Ynez Band Of Chumash Indians. laskinsfest.com
Cabazon Indio Powwow
Nov. 29-Dec. 1, 2019; Fantasy Springs Special Events Center; California
The annual Cabazon Indio Powwow on Thanksgiving weekend takes place just minutes from Palm Springs, California. Here, the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians and Tribes from across the United States and Canada come together to showcase their dancing and singing skills in traditional competitions. Visitors will enjoy Native American dancing, drum contests and bird singing and can even join the dancers during selected times in non-competitive inter-tribal dances. www.fantasyspringsresort.com/prod/cbmi.
Free Museum Admission
To celebrate Native American Heritage Month, Cherokee Nation is offering FREE admission to the Cherokee National History Museum, Cherokee National Prison Museum, Cherokee National Supreme Court Museum, John Ross Museum and Sequoyah’s Cabin Museum. VisitCherokeeNation.com.
Native American Heritage Day
The Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur, Oklahoma will host Native Americans from across the country for a celebration of culture, traditions and cuisine on Nov. 2, 2019. Activities include live music performances, cultural demonstrations, film screenings and traditional food and games. chickasawculturalcenter.com
Black Hills Winter American Indian Art Market
More than 40 tribally-enrolled Native American artists and craftspeople from Rapid City, the Black Hills and surrounding reservations, will sell their works: contemporary and traditional at the Black Hills Winter American Indian Arts Market on Nov. 30, 2019. Pick up two- and three-dimensional visual art, jewelry and wearable art, textile arts, beading, quillwork, silverwork and more. facebook.com
An Evening with Tony Duncan at Phillip England Center for the Performing Arts
The Phillip England Center for the Performing Arts in Verde, Ariz. is celebrating Native American Heritage Month with An Evening with Tony Duncan on Nov. 9, 2019. Experience the rich culture of Native America through the songs, stories, and dances of Tony Duncan Productions, who perform stories of creation, warriors, and tricksters. pecpaf.com
American Indian Month Social & Indian Craft Market
The annual American Indian Month Social & Indian Craft Market, held Nov. 29-Dec. 1, 2019, is designed to educate the public about American Indian culture. Th event showcases authentic Native artwork and crafts, dancing and song and children’s activities, some of which has survived for more than ten millennia. usaindianinfo.com
Native American Activities & Events in New Mexico
New Mexico, known as the Land of Enchantment, is home to five of USA Today’s 10 Best Native American Experiences. While just five New Mexico activities appear on the USA Today list, the state is home to 23 Pueblos, Tribes and Nations and more than 1,000 years of Native American Culture. The New Mexico Tourism Department has listed a few ways to celebrate Native American Heritage Month. newmexico.org/native-american-heritage-month.
Editor’s Note: This list is being continuously updated, so please check back regularly. Journalists, bloggers and other media professionals may use this list for their own editorial content about Native American Heritage Month but are encouraged to credit the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association, AIANTA, www.aianta.org, or NativeAmerica.travel when doing so.