Since the 90’s, every President has issued annual proclamations during the month of November to acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments, culture, contributions, and history of people who were the first to live on the land that its currently known as the United State of America. It wasn’t until 2020 that a proclamation was issued officially designating November as National Native American Heritage Month — or Indigenous Peoples Heritage Month as it is more accurately recognized by several indigenous and non-indigenous communities.
Knowing the history of Indigenous People in this country is the first step to engaging in conversations and dialogues around issues that affect Indigenous People today. Here are some things we all can do to honor Indigenous Peoples throughout the year, not just during the month of November:
- Use the proper terminology when speaking to/about Indigenous People. Although terms like Native American or Indian have a colonial connotation, some prefer these terms over others. When unsure, it is appropriate to ask to make sure you are addressing someone with the terminology that they prefer.
- A land acknowledgement is an easy, impactful, and powerful way to show respect to the original citizens of the land where you are currently residing, standing, about to engage in an activity in, etc. Consider adding a land acknowledgement to written materials or remarks at events.
- Research the Indigenous history of your own hometown and communities.
- Find ways to corporate and highlight Indigenous Peoples’ work into your own by citing the work of Indigenous authors, artists, architects, musicians, performers, etc.