National Indigenous American Heritage Month

Selena Kooy-Bernal, Staff Writer

November is National Indigenous American Heritage Month and during this month we recognize the contributions, sacrifices, and achievements of Indigenous Americans. It’s also a chance to share the unique ancestry, traditions, and contributions their communities make today and throughout history. On August 3rd, 1990, President George H. W. Bush declared the month of November National Indigenous American Heritage Month. On October 28, 2021, President Joe Biden signed a proclamation stating that November is National Native American Heritage Month. The proclamation has been signed by every president. In early October, President Biden also declared October 11 as National Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Within the United States, there are 574 tribes recognized federally, each having their own traditions and culture. Some of these tribes will be taking the opportunity to share more about themselves, their lives, culture, tribes, etc. These sessions take place throughout November, and some sessions are even available online.

Another huge part of National Indigenous American Heritage Month is reclaiming Indigenous peoples’ history through public education. History is a common subject that all students take most of their school life, and history has been plagued with misconceptions, lies, or ‘half-truths.’ But now more and more efforts are being made in order to get U.S. schools to teach actual American history and capture the full story. This includes recognizing the huge contributions made by Indigenous Americans. Schools have been poorly equipped to teach Indigenous education. Teachers are left to try and figure out a curriculum that’s accurate. States are not developing any sort of specific curriculum to follow.

Some ideas that schools can take though would be instead of forcing non-Indigenous teachers to create a curriculum, invite Indigenous speakers to come to schools and talk about Indigenous events, culture, and heritage. Classes can also learn about the history of the land they live on through a simple Google search and practice Indigenous land acknowledgement. Schools should also continue to teach more accurate curriculums throughout the year, not just in November.

A huge social media event, Rock Your Mocs, started on November 14th and will end on November 20th. During this event, Indigenous people are encouraged to share pictures or videos of them wearing their traditional moccasins followed with #RockYourMocs. More event details can be found on the Rock Your Mocs Facebook page.

November should not be the only month in the entire year in which we respect Indigenous people and learn about their heritage. We need to continue to boost Indigenous voices, don’t exclude them from their own conversations. Support and respect are not only an annual thing, they’re a forever thing!