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Celebrating Nationwide Native American Heritage Month

November is federally acknowledged as Nationwide Native American Heritage Month (NNAHM). Throughout this month, American Indian and Alaskan Natives (AI/AN) are honored and celebrated for his or her wealthy and different cultures, traditions, historical past, and societal contributions. NNAHM offers us a chance to develop into extra educated about Native People, enhance our data of distinctive challenges confronted by this inhabitants, and higher perceive how historic trauma—akin to colonization and genocide—has impacted Native peoples.

Transient Historical past

In 1990, a joint decision was handed by Congress and signed into regulation by the late President George H. W. Bush declaring November Native American Indian Heritage Month. Inside this joint decision, Native residents had been acknowledged as America’s authentic inhabitants who made important contributions to each the US and the world, notably their prehistoric harvesting of potatoes and corn. As well as, Congress acknowledged Natives for his or her position in helping the early European guests to North America and Founding Fathers of the US. Members of the Senate and Home of Representatives believed the decision would improve vanity, delight, and self-awareness amongst younger Natives. Whereas this sentiment appeared benevolent, one should additionally contemplate its Eurocentric perspective. As the unique inhabitants of North America, Tribal residents are each members of U.S. society and have been integral to its growth.

The contributions and achievements of Native People had been first acknowledged throughout Could 1916 in New York, known as American Indian Day (PDF | 120 KB). This happened because of the efforts of Crimson Fox James (PDF | 1 MB), a member of the Blackfeet Nation, who rode from state to state on horseback looking for approval from 24 state governments for a day to honor Native People. In 1976, President Gerald Ford proclaimed October 10-16 “Native American Consciousness Week” (PDF | 236 KB). A decade later, Congress handed S.J. Res. 390 (PDF | 92 KB), petitioning that the president name November 23-30 “American Indian Week.” In subsequent years Congress continued this apply, declaring one week through the autumn months “Native American Indian Heritage Week.” 

Congress finally selected November because the month to honor Native People for the reason that month concludes their conventional harvest season and customarily is a time of celebration and giving thanks. In October of this yr, the Biden Administration formally declared November NNAHM

Celebrating Nationwide Native American Heritage Month

As of 2021, there are 574 federally acknowledged Tribes in the US. Nevertheless, quite a few others are nonetheless advocating for recognition. Though many Native People nonetheless reside on reservations, roughly 71 % reside in metropolitan areas. Up to now, Tribal residents represent about 2.5 % of the entire U.S. inhabitants. Regardless of American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) dwelling among the many bigger society, a lot of their historical past has been forgotten (PDF | 48 KB) or neglected. For this very purpose, NNAHM is of the utmost significance. This month can function a reminder of America’s indigenous individuals, and even present many with a brand new understanding. 

There are a number of methods to rejoice, honor, or observe NNAHM. Chances are you’ll contemplate studying extra about Native American cultures, together with wealthy and numerous tales of custom and resiliency. 

If you’re within the Washington, DC space you possibly can go to the Nationwide Museum of the American Indian and the Nationwide Native American Veterans Memorial. This memorial honors the navy service of AI/ANs, who collectively serve within the armed forces at a fee of 5 occasions the nationwide common

It’s also possible to study extra about present points confronted by this inhabitants. In response to SAMHSA’s 2020 NSDUH report (PDF | 3.6 MB), Native People aged 18 and older skilled larger charges of significant suicidal ideas inside the previous yr (5.6 %) and had been likelier to make suicide plans prior to now yr (1.8 %) when in comparison with different racial or ethnic teams. 

As well as, quite a few Native individuals are murdered and go lacking every year. Their plight has been known as the Lacking and Murdered Indigenous Peoples disaster. Substance use is also reportedly larger amongst Native youth on reservations. Discovering methods to higher perceive these points and finest help Native People would show most helpful. 

This inhabitants additionally faces distinctive issues relating to stereotyping and cultural disrespect. The names {of professional} sports activities groups have mocked Native American phenotypical options and heritage. At present makeshift headdresses or conflict bonnets are worn by and bought to non-Tribal members, and are thought-about extremely offensive to many Native peoples. 

To higher perceive the significance of sure cultural gown, traditions, and customs, NNAHM might be spent attending Native American-centered occasions, akin to Powwows or studying books written by Native American authors. You would additionally help Native American-owned companies

NNAHM offers all People with a chance to expertise and honor the richness of the Native American cultural heritage.

SAMHSA Sources

One other avenue value pursuing is SAMHSA’s Tribal Affairs. Highlighted listed below are SAMHSA’s efforts to associate with Native People, which incorporates Tribal Session and funding alternatives to higher help Native residents. Furthermore, SAMHSA offers numerous assets to help this inhabitants in areas akin to suicide prevention, violence prevention, psychological well being, and substance use. Lastly, SAMHSA offers an American Indian and Alaska Native Tradition Card, which seeks to reinforce cultural competence when serving Native peoples. It is a free, downloadable publication on the SAMHSA Retailer.


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