November is Native American Heritage Month

Thanksgiving and Veteran’s Day garner all of the attention during the month of November when the entire month is actually Native American Heritage Month.

Okay, sure Thanksgiving plays in schools across the nation give a small nod to Indians regarding the “feast”; and Natives serve in the military and are thus honored as Veterans, but can you name one without a quick internet search? Besides the foods feasted on by the Pilgrims and Indians, what other contributions have Natives made that you can name off the top of your head?

My point is that Native Americans don’t receive the recognition they deserve.

One month is never enough time to celebrate the riches of one’s culture but we can take advantage by embracing the spirit of it’s people.  We can do this during Native American Heritage Month by taking the time to learning of historical events, traditions, customs, contributions to society, as well as current newsmakers and happenings.

This article is only meant to touch on a few points and spark your interest enough to search the web for more, so we won’t cover all of that here.

We first want to encourage you to take a look at Native Americans today in the MTV documentary below.

Native Americans Today

  • Rebel Music (an MTV documentary about young Natives today)

    Screenshot from MTV's Rebel Music
    Screenshot from MTV’s Rebel Music
  • We Are Still Here (A documentary on today’s young Native Americans)

    Screenshot from We Are Still Here
    Screenshot from We Are Still Here

Recent tragedy

Misty Upham appeared in movies such as Django Unchained, and Skinwalkers.

32 year old Native American actress Misty Upham falls to her death October 5, 2014.

Native American historical accounts we tend to hear about most often      

  • Trail of Tears– the brutally forced and often deadly relocation of Native Americans.
  • Navajo code talkers– Between 400 and 500 Navajos recruited by the Marines during WWII to transmit secret messages. Their code was never broken
  • Pocahontas- credited with saving John Smith’s life and aiding the Jamestown Virginia settlement
  • Sacagawea– Guide and interpreter for Lewis and Clark on their exploration of the western US.

Little known Native American points

  • Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is the onlyFederally-recognized American Indian tribe living within theState of Mississippi.Phyliss J. Anderson, the band’s first female Tribal Chief elected by the Choctaw peoplewas sworn into office in October of 2011

    AP photo of Chief Phyliss J. Anderson. Photographer: Steven Thomas
    AP photo of Chief Phyliss J. Anderson. Photographer: Steven Thomas
  • The Trail of Tears is a name most often attributed to the Cherokee Indians but applies to many Indian bands including the Navajo. There were also black people among these tribes.
  • Some claim that black people are the real Native American mound builders
  • 26 of the 50 states have names derived from one Indian language or another
  • Sacajawea is the only Native American on US currency ( golden dollar)
  • The American governmental structure was modeled after The Iroquois League of Nations. Our national symbol of the bald eagle was also based on their symbol.
  • Architectural contributions including apartment complexes and suspension bridges
  • Bunkbed were copied from Natives
  • Indians introduced settlers to more foods than corn, pumpkins and turkey including 14 or more types of beans, pineapples, avocados, white and sweet potatoes, chili peppers, and chocolate
  • American Sign Language (ASL) is based on well establish hand communication systems used to speak to the deaf members of tribes, tribes of different dialects, and later to communicate with trappers and traders

Related links

What cities, counties, rivers, lakes, sports, etc. can you think of that derive from Native Americans?

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