Native American Heritage Month

Native American Heritage Month is a fantastic opportunity for non-Natives to learn and unlearn about Native history and culture. Though many values and traditions may be shared, each Native American nation and community has its own history and culture. With hundreds of spoken languages and ties to the land informing aspects of their identity, there are 574 tribes, nations, bands, pueblos, communities, and native villages registered in the United States. In addition, there are hundreds more communities that are recognized by individual states and many are not formally recognized at all.

The month of November can serve as a time to celebrate contemporary and historical practices and traditions while building empathy and awareness regarding modern challenges and issues that many Native American nations and communities face. As we celebrate and pay tribute to the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island and their rich ancestry, we can honor their culture and resilience by questioning and rethinking American history as it is commonly taught and helping to shine a light of truth onto the first Thanksgiving. As we consider mindfulness and intention, it is not enough to focus just on the celebration or culture, we must also address the impact the arrival of European settlers and immigrants had, and continue to have, on the first Americans and their way of life. 

Many Native Americans have long considered Thanksgiving not as a holiday, but as a day of somber remembrance, a celebration of survival and defiance. In support and respect for the many feelings and emotions surrounding the thanksgiving holiday, we can aspire to a society that seeks to lift, not erase, the lives and memories of the people who were here first. Ways to learn, unlearn, and grow during Native American Heritage Month include: 

  • Discussing the truth about the first thanksgiving
  • Seeking out Native educational/artistic events, supporting local or online Native-owned businesses
  • Reading and supporting Native American authors and journalists. 

When we acknowledge the fact that Native American history is American history, only then can we begin to engage in meaningful reconciliation and progress toward a future that is more equitable and inclusive.

to listen & learn

Native American Culture & Language Podcasts

Native American History & Politics Podcasts

Native American Authors & Academics

  • Tommy Orange, American Novelist, Citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma
  • Lisa Charleyboy, First Nations Writer, Editor in Chief of Urban Native Magazine

  • Nick Estes (Kul Wicasa), Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico

  • Joy Harjo, First Native American Incumbent United States Poet Laureate
  • Waubgeshig Rice, Anishinaabe Writer & Journalist
  • Louise Erdrich, Author
  • Tiffany Midge, Hunkpapa Lakota of the Standing Rock Sioux
  • Robin Wall Kimmerer, Director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment at State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
  • Leanne Howe, Eidson Distinguished Professor in Department of English at the University of Georgia, Athens
  • Dr. Michael Yellow Bird

Our featured image “Bird and Cornstock Rug” is an artwork by Ason Yellowhair provided by the Denver Art Museum. Learn more about this artwork and other Indigenous artworks by visiting their website.

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created by

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Cierra Valles

Cierra Valles, MM, RYT and RCYT is an experienced Chicana educator, scholar, consultant, and musician based in Detroit, MI.

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