November is designated as Native American Heritage Month, and it is the perfect time to celebrate the culture of Native Americans as well as their ongoing contributions to our society.
Native Americans make up roughly 2.5% of the entire population of the United States, but our society would not be possible at all without their involvement. However, many parts of the history of the Native American population has been overlooked or even lost to history. Now, many people want to try to change that and start to celebrate a whole population of people who have given so much.
Why November is the Perfect Time to Celebrate Native American Heritage
There are many misconceptions about Native American culture that persist to this day. In fact, many people are starting to take a second look at the way that much of the country celebrates the Thanksgiving holiday. There are many misinformed beliefs about who Native Americans are and how they should be portrayed in our culture. Sadly, many of the most stereotypical, inaccurate, and even racist depictions of Native Americans have dominated Thanksgiving celebrations for decades.
Public awareness of this issue is now on the rise, and we can all do our part to contribute to a celebration of Native American culture by changing the way that we celebrate the month of November. Goodgoodgood.co explains:
November is an opportunity to grow our understanding of Native culture, traditions, and how historical traumas like colonization and genocide have impacted Native peoples throughout history — and still do today.
With that in mind, let us take a look at some of the ways that we can genuinely celebrate Native American culture appropriately in November.
1) Take in Some Indigenous Art
Countless breathtaking pieces of Indigenous art exist in our country. Museums are finally catching on to the fact that people want to see artwork created by Indigenous people is something that all of society would like to view and appreciate.
One museum that is really getting this right is the Denver Art Museum. They have over 18,000 pieces of Indigenous art created by 250 different artists. This particular museum began its collection of Indigenous art in 1925. This early head start has allowed the Denver Art Museum to run laps around the competition. If you truly want to see the scope and breadth of all that is possible from Indigenous artwork, then you need to check out this particular museum if you get the chance.
2) Follow Native American Social Media Figures
You probably take the time to follow your favorite pop stars or sports heroes, so why not follow some Native American figures on social media as well? It will provide you with a perspective that you wouldn't otherwise have access to. A few accounts that are worthwhile to check out include:
- Representative Sharice Davids - The first openly LGBTQ+ member of Congress from Kansas and one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress
- Adrienne Keene - A blogger and educator about Native American issues, including why so much Native American culture has been erased from society.
- Dallas Goldtooth - A comedian and activist for the Indigenous Environmental Network. His comedy is both funny and informative.
These three are just a drop in the bucket of amazing Indigenous people's social media accounts to follow.
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3) Read Books by Native American Authors
Check out some books at your local library written by Native American authors. If you can't find any on the shelves yourself, ask a librarian for some help locating some. They can likely help make this happen for you. If your particular branch library doesn't have the titles that you are looking for, consider requesting some via an interlibrary loan.
4) Plant Native Plants
There is a wealth of Indigenous knowledge about best practices when it comes to growing plants and for processes such as soil management. By planting native plants, you are bringing yourself into the mindset of treating the Earth with respect, the same way that Indigenous people have done for generations.
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5) Support Native American-Owned Busineses
A quick search on your favorite search engine should reveal Native American-owned businesses in your area. These are likely small businesses, but the goods that they sell may well be some of the most high-quality items that you have ever purchased. On top of that, you get to support a cause that you believe in.
Supporting Native American-owned business is one of the fastest and most effective ways that you can take action today.
6) Create a Useful E-mail Auto-Response
One small step in the right direction that you can take at work is to create an auto-response on your e-mail that simply informs recipients that your office is recognizing Native American heritage month. This is particularly important if the office closes or if you happen to take some time off during the month of November.
This kind of e-mail response can open some people's eyes to the existence of this celebratory month and to alternatives to Thanksgiving.
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7) Celebrate the "National Day of Listening"
Instead of celebrating Thanksgiving, some people choose to take part in the National Day of Listening. It was started in 2008 by StoryCorp with the intention of getting people together to listen to one another's stories and take in the magnitude of the simple lessons that we can teach one another by just listening.
The idea is that this is a great time to have this type of celebration since so many families draw close together during this time of year. With that being the case, there are a lot of people who find it is a great time to draw inspiration from one another by just listening.
8) Participate in Restorative Justice Week
Canada always has Restorative Justice Week in the third week of November. They use this time to remember the past disasterous treatment of Indigenous people and call upon themselves to do better going forward. It is a moment of reflection, but also a time to look out and see a future in which all people are treated more fairly.
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9) Talk to Your Children About Native American History
Not only should you try to educate yourself about Native American history, but you can change the next generation for the better as well. Your children learn directly from you, and one thing that you can do to help create a better future is teach your children about the past.
10) Donate to Native American Non-Profits
You may also donate to non-profits that assist Native Americans. Just make sure you verify that the charities and non-profits that you donate to are legitimately set up to help Native Americans. Here are a few that are considered worthy organizations:
- Native American Rights Fund
- American Indian College Fund
- First Nations Development Institute
- Native American Heritage Association
If you donate to one of these groups or others that have been vetted, then you can have peace of mind that your money is going to the right cause.
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