November is National Native American Heritage Month. It is a time to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians.
I am a proud Native American, and I cherish our deep connection to the land and strong sense of community. We have made significant contributions to American culture in art, music, dance, food, and language.
National Native American Heritage Month is a time to learn more about the Native American people and their cultures. There are many ways to celebrate this month, such as attending Native American events, visiting Native American museums, and reading books by Native American authors.
Here are some specific things you can do to celebrate National Native American Heritage Month:
- Visit a Native American museum or cultural center
- Attend a Native American powwow or other cultural event
- Read books by Native American authors
- Watch Native American documentaries, movies, and TV shows
- Listen to Native American music
- Learn about Native American history and culture
- Support Native American businesses
If You Need Help Or Guidance Reach Out To Me
As a Native American, I am passionate about helping other Natives reach their academic goals. If you need guidance, support, or help with anything—college admissions process, applications, picking out classes, deciding on a major, filling out scholarships, etc., please fill out the Contact page. Mention you’re Native and give me a brief description of what you need help or support with. We can chat, collaborate, or work through whatever you need.
The American Indian College Fund
I would like to acknowledge The American Indian College Fund. They awarded me a scholarship that made my college education possible. The Fund provides financial support to Native American students and tribal colleges and universities, as well as programs for institutional growth and sustainability and cultural preservation. Native American students who are planning to attend or are currently attending college should create an account and apply for scholarships from the American Indian College Fund.
I understand that many often associate November with the Mayflower, Plymouth Rock, and the Pilgrims, leading to Thanksgiving. For some Native Americans, Thanksgiving can be a bittersweet occasion. Traditional accounts of the first Thanksgiving often depict a harmonious gathering between Pilgrims and Native Americans, but this is not an accurate portrayal of what actually transpired. It is important to be mindful and respectful of this history.
In 2020, on the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s arrival in North America, I wrote an article for a Native American magazine about the event. I have included the article below as a reminder of the hardships endured by Native Americans.
The Mayflower: 400 Years Later
Four hundred years ago, in 1620 an 80-foot merchant ship carrying a mere 102 passengers, who were in search of religious freedom, set sail from England to the New World—America. In the 1500s, England split from the Roman Catholic Church and created a new church, the Church of England. Everyone in England was required to belong to the new church. Wanting to worship God in their own way and on their own terms, these passengers risked the long and difficult voyage, pursuing a path toward freedom and liberation. However, the betterment of their lives would change the Native American people’s entire way of existence.
Depicted as one of the most important ships in United States history, the Mayflower, which landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts on December 18th, represented disease, war, enslavement, and genocide for the Native Americans. For thousands of years, Native Americans inhabited the land across our vast country. Hundreds of tribes, each unique with their own subculture of beliefs and traditions, prospered. Whether they lived in the mountains, valleys, across the plains, or along the coasts, they thrived and had their own distinctive connections with community and nature.
They respected the land, Mother Earth, and the heavens, Father Sky. They not only revered but also had a spiritual connection with the land and animals around them. Their culture was sophisticated and multifaceted. They hunted and gathered the abundant resources Mother Earth provided. They worshiped their creator, held spiritual ceremonies, and relied on healers. They had language, dancing, music, and art. They created traditions and beliefs which they passed down for hundreds of generations. The Mayflower put an unforeseen and abrupt halt to all they knew.
The effect that colonization had on Native Americans was devastating. The settlers intended to build a free New World. What they were fleeing from was being told what to do and how to live their lives. They strived for religious and cultural freedom. However, the same controlling principles inflicted on them, they in turn inflicted on the Native American peoples. Over the years, their old way of life—their ancient beliefs and practices were quickly replaced with forced social and cultural change. Massacring vast numbers of Natives, through disease and murder, ensured European cultural dominance.
Missionaries were sent to convert Native American peoples to Christianity. This was to further integrate them into European ways. Native children were encouraged not to speak their native languages and were separated from their families and forced into schools. This expanded assimilation. As a result of this most Native American peoples had no choice but to surrender to the genocide and try and keep what little identity they had left.
However, the Native American’s story does not end here. Their story is one of survival and endurance. Native Americans are reclaiming their heritage, and their lands, and are practicing their traditions. Native American elders and leaders have been able to preserve their beliefs and practices and are relied on today to share their wisdom, knowledge, and spiritual guidance with younger generations. Native Americans are gaining their independence, carving out their own place in society. They are once again prospering by gaining economic stability. They are creating jobs, building housing, educating their people, participating in sustainability projects, and giving to their local communities. They are honoring future generations by passing on their traditions and renewing their connections with Mother Earth and Father Sky. Despite all they have endured, it is nothing short of a miracle that their culture has survived. This speaks volumes about the Native American’s strength, resilience, and spirituality.