Native American Heritage Month
Did you know?
In 1990, President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution to designate November as Native American Heritage Month.
Since 1995, every president has issued annual proclamations designating the month of November as the time to celebrate the culture, accomplishments, and contributions of people who were the first inhabitants of the United States.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are about 4.5 million Native Americans and Alaska Natives in the United States. That’s about 1.5 percent of the population.
There are more than 570 federally recognized tribes in the United States.
In Texas today, only three federally recognized tribes still have reservations.
Joy Harjo, Mvskoke, is the first Native American Poet Laureate in the history of the position as of June 2019.
Many Native Americans words have entered the English language, such as chia, chili, chocolate, coyote, guacamole, mesquite, shack, tamale, tomato, abalone, bayou, manatee, poncho, and potato.
Native Americans have been living on the American continent since about 12,000 B.C.
In the early 1600s, five tribes formed an all-male council, who was elected for life, to make decisions; however, women had the right to fire any councilor.
Even though they were not citizens until 1924, over 8,000 Native Americans served during WWI.
Over 24,000 Native Americans served during WWII, with many being Code Talkers for the U.S. Code Talkers used their tribal language to send secret communications on the battlefield.
“Texas” is the name of a group of Native Americans tribes meaning “friends” or “allies.”
Common Traditions & Beliefs:
Powows – A way for Nations to come together to celebrate success; reconnect with family, other tribes, and the earth; reclaim pride, and power; and celebrate life
Frybread – A large, puffy, plate-size piece of fried dough
The Stomp Dance – Takes place during the height of crop season; pattern of movement is a stomp and shuffle in a circle; almost like a moving prayer, bringing together generations and uniting the community
Governing Principles – Each Tribal Nation had laws, leaders, and policies before the colonizers forced them to assimilate beginning in the 18th century; though forced to assimilate in many areas, Tribal Nations continue to have Tribal sovereignty today
Gender Roles and Leadership – Many tribes are matriarchal, placing important significance on the roles of women in leadership, counsel, and battle
Grape Dumplings – A deep purple, juicy pastry dish
Wampums – A beaded belt that serves as both a work of art and a recording of history; the belt is not to be worn, it is instead a symbol of events, treaties, and union between two nations
Drum Circles – Common Ceremonies for many nations and people; the beat of the drum represents the heartbeat of Mother Earth, a uniting force, bringing people together of different tribes as well as uniting a person’s spirit to their body and mind
Kinship – Remains important as a system that determines what gets passed down from generation to generation
Agriculture and Connection to the Earth – Many Native tribes emphasize the importance of closeness with nature and a reverence for the earth and all its creatures
Smudging – Herbs, like sage, are burnt and placed in a smudge bowl as a way to offer a blessing and to spiritually purify an area or gathering