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.
In 1915, Red Fox James, a Blackfeet Indian, rode his horse around the country and ultimately secured endorsements from 24 state governments in favor of a day honoring American Indians. Although he presented the resolutions to the White House on December 14, 1915, the Library of Congress reports that there is no record of such a day every being proclaimed.
That same year, at the annual Congress of the American Indian Association meeting in Lawrence, Kan., 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.
In 1916, 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 1990 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.”
Joseph Secody (Navajo Nation) and Tomas Hunt (Navajo Nation) // Photo courtesy of Yellow World Productions
Below, find a partial list of just some of the Native American Heritage Month celebrations occurring around the country in 2018.
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.
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 home1.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 Native American Heritage Month on a website dedicated to the history and culture of American Indians and Alaska Natives. This site showcases American Indian properties in travel itineraries, American Indian properties featured in Historic Places lesson plans and American Indian Heritage in National Parks. Information can be found at www.nps.gov/nr/feature/indian/
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, as well as the National Education Association, Publishers Weekly, the Chicago Public Library, Goodreads and Scholastic.
Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI)
Month-long; Juneau, Alaska
Sealaska Heritage Institute is sponsoring a series of lectures and special events throughout November. Select lectures include Oral Accounts of the Tlingit Kaagwaantaan Origin and Migration presented by David Kanosh and accompanied by Nels Lawson (Nov. 1); The First Cannery in Alaska and the Path Not Taken presented by Steve J. Langdon, Ph.D., professor emeritus at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, Department of Anthropology (Nov. 8); Re-Awakening Ancient Salish Sea Basketry, Fifty Years of Basketry Studies in Culture and Science presented by Ed Carriere and Dale Croes (Nov. 9); and The Names We Carry presented by Ernestine Saankaláxt Hayes, Alaska Writer Laureate and an American Book Award recipient. In November, the facility also honors Walter Soboleff Day with a lunch-hour viewing of items from the Tlingit elder’s collections. All lectures are free and open to the public. www.sealaskaheritage.org
Being Good Relatives Gathering
Nov. 5, 2018; First Alaskans Institute; Dena’ina Center, Anchorage
Alaska Tribes and Corporations gather to celebrate positive, strength-based examples of local/regional unity and to discuss new ways to promote the Alaska Native ways of Being Good Relatives. More Information
Seneca Nation of Indians
Month-long; Lewiston, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, N.Y.
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. 3, 10 and 18 at the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino (5:30 p.m., 7:30 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 November 1, 8 and 15 at 4 p.m. On Wednesday, November 7, the community will gather at the Seneca Niagara Events Center for a community dinner and social. Each casino is also hosting a Seneca Market during the first three weekends of the month, as well as food specials throughout the month. www.senecacasinos.com/NAHM
National Museum of the American Indian
Month-long (New York City and Washington, D.C.)
The National Museum of the American Indian is rolling out a series of festivals, performances, screenings and talks in honor of American Indian Heritage Month at its facilities in Washington, D.C. and New York City. Among them, the signature Patriot Nations: Native Americans in Our Nation’s Armed Forces documents 250 years of Native peoples’ contributions in U.S. military history. The museum also recently announced the selection of “Warriors’ Circle of Honor” by Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne/Arapaho) as the design for the National Native American Veterans Memorial, which is slated to break ground in September 2019. Other events include: Honor Song for Returning Native American Women Warriors (Nov. 8, 1:30 p.m., Washington, D.C.); Hoop Dancing Demonstrations (Nov. 15; 6 p.m.; Nov. 17, & Nov. 18, noon–4 p.m., New York City) and a Hopi Tribal Festival (Nov. 17 & 18; 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Washington D.C.)
For events in DC, visit: https://americanindian.si.edu
For events in New York, visit: https://americanindian.si.edu
Dance! Music! Arts! Culture!
Nov. 2-3, 2018; 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) on Museum grounds. 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.
Native American Stories Family Day at the National Archives
Nov. 3, 2018; Washington, D.C.
At the National Archives in Washington, D.C., Saturday, Nov. 3 is Native American Stories Family Day. Learn about Native Americans and their relationships with the United States, while also trying your hand at deciphering Navajo code, creating a storyboard for a movie on athlete Jim Thorpe, or delving into treaties between the United States and Indian nations. www.archives.gov.
Native Rhythms Festival
Nov. 9-11, 2018; Melbourne, Fla.
The Indian River Flute Circle and Native Heritage Gathering, Inc. present the tenth annual gathering of the Native Rhythms Festival, a three-day event 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. The festival features a lineup of headline performers, including GRAMMY, NAMMY (Native American Music Award) and ISMA (Indian Summer Music Award) winners and nominees. nativerhythmsfestival.com
Cherokee Heritage Day
Nov. 10, 2018; Cherokee, N.C.
The Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, N.C. rolls out its annual Cherokee Heritage Day celebration every November. Celebrating Hunter’s Month, activities include a blowgun competition, a Hunter Encampment, genealogy, atlatl demos, bow and arrow demos and flint knapping. www.cherokeemuseum.org
Chicago Public Library
Month-long; locations vary throughout Chicago, Ill.
The Chicago Public Library (CPL) is turning out a system-wide series of events during Native American Heritage Month, including music performances and craft workshops. At the forefront of the festivities will be Everybody Dance! 7 Decades of Chicago Pow Wow (Nov. 17, 2 p.m.) at the Edgebrook Branch. Here, the Redline Singers will perform Southern Plains-style intertribal Pow Wow songs, and members of the Chicago-based Native American community perform Pow Wow dances. At the Sulzer Regional Library (Nov. 29, 6:30 p.m.) SantiagoX, indigenous futurist artist and descendant of North American Mound Builders, will build a coil mound as part of the proposed Northwest Portage Walking Museum. Gamers won’t want to miss Indigenous by Design at the Albany Park Branch (Nov. 8), featuring games created by Indigenous designers. For a complete list of events, visit https://www.chipublib.org
Native American Heritage Month at Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Month-long; locations vary
Southern Illinois University Carbondale kicks off a month of special events with a traditional dance performance from the Black Hawk Dance Performance Company of Chicago at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 1 in the Student Center Auditorium. Other events include “Preserving the Kiowa language for everyone” on Nov. 9, including an introduction by Andrew McKenzie of the University of Kansas; a traditional beaded bracelet workshop during Native American Craft Night on Nov. 14; and the month-long “SIU Center for Archaeological Investigations 40th Anniversary Exhibit,” which features Native American rock art, pottery, stone tools and other artifacts investigated by the center’s archaeologists during the past 40 years. Throughout the month, Lentz Dining Hall will serve special items such as baked black beans, wild rice burger, 3 sisters stew, Choctaw stew, Comanche stew and Seneca ghost bread. For more information, visit news.siu.edu.
Native American Heritage Month at Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeway
Month-long, Ziibiwing Center; Mt. Pleasant, Mich.
At Spirit Feast (Nov. 1), experience an Anishinabe ceremony that honors ancestors and loved ones that have passed on and also serves as a healing ceremony for those who are still grieving. Here, guests share the special food, photos and stories of the one(s) who touched their lives. This month the Center also features the Circle of Indigenous Arts Market & Competition on Nov. 16 & 17. For more information, visit www.sagchip.org/ziibiwing. Other Native American Heritage events in Mt. Pleasant are being hosted at Central Michigan University.
Minneapolis Institute of Arts: Arriving at Fresh Water
Nov. 6, 2018, and month-long; Minneapolis Institute of Arts; Minneapolis, Minn.
On Nov. 6, St. Thomas University hosts a trip to the MIA for an exhibit highlighting Native American artworks from the Great Lakes region. The exhibition celebrates 14 of the region’s leading contemporary Native American artists who explore issues of truth and justice, community and self. See a complete list of University of St. Thomas Native American Heritage Month events.
“More Than Frybread” and Beadwork Night
Nov. 7, 2018; Ohio State University; Columbus, Ohio
As a part of Native American Heritage Month, join members of the university’s Native American and Indigenous Peoples Cohort (NAIPC) and Native American Student Initiatives for a night of beadworking and a screening of the film, More Than Frybread. View a complete list of Native American Heritage Month events at Ohio State University.
Los Angeles Public Library
Month-long; locations vary throughout Los Angeles County
Libraries throughout the Los Angeles Public Library system are also 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 Ben Hale (Navajo Nation) of the Eagle Spirit Dancers (varying times and locations); a Native American pottery demonstration by artist Rowan Harrison (Navajo Nation/Pueblo of Isleta); and a showing of True Whisperers: The Story of the Navajo Code Talkers (Nov. 26, 5:00 p.m., Acton Agua Dulce Library). For a complete list, visit lacountylibrary.org/native-american-heritage-month/
Month-long; Seattle, Wash.
In November, Sea-Tac Airport will celebrate the contributions first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the United States. A month-long series of activities will celebrate the culture, traditions, music, crafts and dance of area Native American Tribes. The airport is also recognizing the Sacred Circle Gift Gallery and Gift Shop, the airport’s first Native American retailer, managed by the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation, as vendor of the month. www.portseattle.org/events/native-american-heritage-month
California American Indian and Indigenous Film Festival
Nov. 1-3, 2018; Pechanga Resort Casino; Temecula, California
Kicking off Native American Heritage Month, the California American Indian and Indigenous Film Festival (CAIFF) in Southern California at Pechanga Resort Casino features a three-day lineup of full-length films, documentaries and shorts that have all been directed or produced by Native American and Indigenous women. Additionally, each one stars Native American and Indigenous female actors. www.caiiff.com
23rd RNCI Red Nation International Film Festival
Nov. 5-16, 2018; Laemmle Music Hall; Beverly Hills, Calif.
The 12-day 23rd RNCI Red Nation International Film Festival (RNIFF) is dedicated to replacing American Indian stereotype with recognition, new vision, arts, culture and economic prosperity 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
43rd Annual American Indian Film Festival
Nov. 7-11, 2018; San Francisco, Calif.
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. One the major presenters of Native American media arts in California, this year’s festival honors the life of the late Michael Smith (Fort Peck Sioux Tribe), the founder of the festival, who passed away suddenly earlier this year. www.aifisf.com
American Indian Arts Marketplace
Nov. 10–11, 2018, The Autry in Griffith Park; Los Angles, Calif.
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, mixed-media works and more 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 Eighth Annual Short Play Festival
Nov. 11, 2018; Wells Fargo Theater at The Autry; Los Angeles, Calif.
Native playwrights are invited to answer the question: What’s on the table in Indian Country? in clever and thoughtful ten-minute scripts. With the theme of FOOD!, this year’s Native Voices Short Play Festival explores a variety of issues from the complicated legacy of frybread to the devastating effects of water shortages and climate change on subsistence hunting. theautry.org
LA Skins Fest
Nov. 13-18, 2018; TCL Chinese Theater; Hollywood, Calif.
Presented by Comcast NBCUniversal, LA Skins Fest is a platform for emerging Native American actors, filmmakers, writers, directors and artists. Native-made movies are the highlight, but events also include 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
Rock Your Mocs Photo Shoot and Film Screening
Nov. 15, 2018; Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve; Tulalip, Wash.
Don your finest moccasins for a “Rock your Mocs” photo shoot at the Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve in Tulalip, Wash. Following the photo shoot, the center will screen a short film in honor of Native American Heritage Month. www.hibulbculturalcenter.org
2018 Cabazon Indio Powwow
Nov. 23-25, 2018; Fantasy Springs Special Events Center; California
The 37th Annual Cabazon Indio Powwow on Thanksgiving weekend takes places just minutes from Palm Springs, Calif. Here, the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians and tribes from across the United States and Canada come together to show off 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.
Chickasaw Cultural Center
Nov. 3, 2018; Sulphur, Okla.
The Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur, Oklahoma will host Native American Tribes from across the country for a celebration of culture, traditions and cuisine on Nov. 3. Activities include Native hymns, dance demonstrations, storytelling, traditional games and movie showings in the Anoli’ Theater. www.chickasawculturalcenter.com
Red Cloud Remembered: 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie
Nov. 5, 2018; Fort Laramie National Historic Site; Fort Laramie, Wyo.
Commemorate the 150th anniversary of the signing of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, which continues to impact the lives of indigenous nations across the Northern Great Plains today. At 10 a.m., the commemoration kicks off with with a poignant opening, including an Oglala Lakota ceremony, offerings and a prayer at Fort Laramie National Historic Site. (Admission is free). Starting at 11:30 a.m., move to Fort Laramie Community Center for a keynote speech from Tom Short Bull, President of the Oglala Lakota College followed by a traditional lunch prepared by the Red Cloud family. During the afternoon, join Eyapaha (MC) Chris Eagle Hawk, who introduces presentations and displays about Lakota history and culture. Also planned are Victory Dance and Honor Songs, with songs by the Crazy Horse Singers. This event is supported in part by a grant through thinkWY|Wyoming Humanities. For more information visit the Fort Laramie National Historic Monument Facebook page.
Black Hills American Indian Winter Art Market
Nov. 24, 2018; Holiday Inn Rapid City-Rushmore Plaza; Rapid City, S.D.
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 American Indian Winter Arts Market. Pick up two- and three-dimensional visual art, jewelry and wearable art, textile arts, beading, quillwork, silverwork and more. https://www.facebook.com/events/1862458623773589/?active_tab=about
Native American Activities & Events in New Mexico
Month-long; locations vary throughout New Mexico
New Mexico, also 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 may appear on the USA Today list, New Mexico is home to 23 Pueblos, Tribes and Nations and more than 1,000 years of Native American Culture, and encompasses nearly countless experiences. For November, the New Mexico Tourism Department has listed a few of its favorite ways to celebrate Native American Heritage Month. View the full list at www.newmexico.org/native-american-heritage-month.
Hopi Rhythms at Phillip England Center for the Performing Arts
Nov. 10, 2018; Phillip England Center for the Performing Arts; Verde, Ariz.
The Phillip England Center for the Performing Arts in Verde, Ariz. is celebrating Native American Heritage Month concert by recognizing the talents of Hopi artists and musicians. The concert features Clark Tenakhongva and Gary Stroutsos, who use their voices, flutes and percussion to demonstrate Hopi cultural connections to Grand Canyon The program also features stunning images of Grand Canyon. Concert proceeds benefit the Hopi Educational Endowment Fund and the Verde Valley Archaeology Center’s Capital Campaign to preserve an ancestral Hopi pit house village dating to A.D. 650. pecpaf.com/hopi-rhythms
Pueblo Film Fest
Nov. 16, 2018; Indian Pueblo Cultural Center; Albuquerque, N.M.
The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center kicks off its 5th Annual Pueblo Film Fest: Empowering Women Through Film in 2018. The only film festival in the country devoted to the work of Pueblo filmmakers and actors, as well as to films that explore the Pueblo experience. The weekend includes film screenings, presentations, and discussions with renowned Pueblo filmmakers. facebook.com. View a full list of the Cultural Center’s Native American Heritage Month events.
2018 Native American Month Social & Indian Craft Market
Nov. 23-25, 2018; Sheraton Hotel; Tucson, Arizona
The annual Native American Month Social & Indian Craft Market is designed to educate the public about American Indian culture. Before Europeans arrived in North America, hundreds of nations thrived throughout the continent. This event showcases authentic Native artwork and crafts, dancing and song and children’s activities, some of which has survived for more than ten millennia. www.visittucson.org
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 asked to credit the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association (AIANTA) when doing so.