Honoring Native American Heritage

Scott Coleman-Allan

~ 3min read

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~ 3min read

Throughout the month of November, the United States celebrates Native American Month, a time dedicated to recognizing and honoring the rich and diverse heritage of Indigenous peoples. This month-long observance is an opportunity to not only acknowledge the historical contributions of Native Americans but also to raise awareness about the challenges they face today.

> A Legacy of Resilience and Culture

Native American Month is a time to celebrate the cultures, traditions, and histories of the numerous Indigenous nations that have thrived on the North American continent for thousands of years. The Indigenous peoples of the Americas possess a deep connection to the land, a profound understanding of the natural world, and a wealth of artistic, linguistic, and spiritual traditions. Their contributions have significantly shaped the fabric of American society.

> History and Significance

The observance of Native American Month has its roots in National Indian Heritage Week, which was first designated by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. This week was later expanded to a month by President George W. Bush in 1994. The month of November was chosen due to its historical and cultural significance. Traditionally, many Native American communities hold fall harvest ceremonies and other important cultural events during this time.

> The significance of Native American Month lies in several key aspects:

Cultural Preservation: Celebrating Native American Month helps to preserve and promote Indigenous languages, traditions, and art forms, which are essential components of American cultural diversity.

Education and Awareness: It offers an opportunity to educate the public about the history and contributions of Indigenous peoples. Understanding their history is critical to fostering empathy, respect, and a deeper appreciation for their culture.

Recognition of Sovereignty: Acknowledging Native American Month reinforces the sovereign status of Indigenous nations and recognizes their unique political and legal standing within the United States.

Challenges and Advocacy: The month also serves as a platform to raise awareness about the ongoing challenges faced by Native communities, such as healthcare disparities, environmental issues, and social injustices. Advocacy and support for Native American causes can be an important part of the celebration.

> Ways to Celebrate and Learn

During Native American Month, there are many ways to get involved and gain a better understanding of Indigenous cultures:

Educational Events: Participate in events, lectures, and cultural programs hosted by Indigenous organizations, museums, and educational institutions.

Support Indigenous Artisans: Purchase authentic Indigenous art and crafts from Native artists and artisans. This not only supports their livelihoods but also helps preserve traditional art forms.

Read and Watch: Explore literature, films, and documentaries by and about Native Americans. Notable works include Louise Erdrich's novels, the film "Smoke Signals," and the documentary "In the Light of Reverence."

Visit Indigenous Cultural Centers: Many Indigenous nations operate cultural centers and museums that offer valuable insights into their history, traditions, and contemporary issues. These include the Heard Museum in Phoenix, the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., and the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Oklahoma.

Engage in Dialogue: Foster open and respectful conversations with Indigenous friends, colleagues, and community members. Learning from personal experiences and perspectives can be a powerful way to gain insight into Native American culture.

Native American Month is a time to honor and celebrate the enduring heritage and contributions of Indigenous peoples. It also provides a platform for acknowledging the challenges they continue to face and advocating for their rights and well-being. By engaging with and learning from Native American communities, we can foster greater understanding, appreciation, and respect for their cultures and histories.

> Scott Coleman-Allan

Scott is the Director of Global DE&I, Talent & Strategy at mthree. For the past 12 years, Scott’s specialisation has centered on refining talent acquisition methods and driving impactful DE&I initiatives across various organisations across the globe.


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