During November, Americans of all creeds, classes and colors give thanks. In 1990, the observance of Native American Heritage Month began with a declaration of celebration. In the late 20th century, the US acknowledged the falsehoods presented in the traditional US Thanksgiving – at least in part. Public discourse on the meaning of Thanksgiving reached the conclusion that the story told in the school systems, and the true history of Thanksgiving are not the same thing, and that the false story of Thanksgiving misrepresents the relationship between the Native American tribes who interacted with the first wave of European immigrants. In effort to acknowledge wrongdoing, and spur education November is now National Native American Heritage Month. It is a small step in the right direction.
Celebrating Native American Heritage offers a unique opportunity to learn about and appreciate the many and diverse Native American cultures. NativeAmericanHeritageMonth.gov details some events and different ways to celebrate.
You can also celebrate by visiting your local library to check out a book on the topic. A few favorites include An Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, We Are Still Here: A Photographic History of the American Indian Movement by Wittstock Waterman, and Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask by Anton Treuer. Go here for a complete list!
If you feel like watching a movie, give Smoke Signals a try.
If there is a family member or Famous Native American you would like to know more about, search these archives!
We cannot talk about Native American Heritage month without talking about at least one piece of Native American jewelry. The Navajo are renowned coral, turquoise and silversmiths. Silver is complimentary to the turquoise, and pairings enhance the beauty of each element. To see more examples of Native American craftsmanship visit the Millicent Rodgers museum website, they house a few examples of traditional Navajo, Zuni, Hopi and Pueblo jewelry.
Bejeweled adornment is not limited to tiny tokens. Seed Beads are a popular jewelry component for many tribes, and not just for jewelry. Ceremonial clothing, and even some day-to-day items feature seed-bead craftsmanship. Many tribes, including Seminole, Ojibiwe, Cree and Cherokee make patterned Bandolier bags. These status-symbol, seed-bead, cross-body bags hang at the hip and remain a part of each diverse culture. The image at left is a Shawnee Bandolier bag. You can learn more about these bags and see more great photos of them at Traditional Native Healing.
Pendant & Ring headquarters are in Oklahoma where the stunning cultures of Native American tribes are celebrated in numerous museums and cultural centers all year-long. Take some time this month to learn about the tribes from your neck of the woods.