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Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month and was first recognized by the Congress of the American Indian Association in 1915.

Did you know the year before this proclamation was issued, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. On December 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House.

This month is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Indigenous people. Native American Heritage Month is also an opportune time to educate the general public about tribes, to raise a general awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges.

As of 2022 there are 574 Federally Recognized Tribes according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. This does not include all Tribal Nations that are in the United States. For instance Wisconsin has 11 Federally Recognized Tribes and 1 Tribal Nation that is currently not Federally Recognized. However, the Governor of Wisconsin, Tony Evers declared Nov. 7 as Eeyamquittoowauconnuck Day, or Brothertown Day, back in 2020.

Although Thanksgiving is also held during the month of November some do not celebrate Thanksgiving instead it is known as a Day of Mourning. This day represents the dark shadow of genocide of Native people and colonization. Every tribe and every individual may have a different way of spending Thanksgiving. Some gather with their families and share a meal, exchanging prayers and stories while others may fast for the entire day. The origin of Thanksgiving in the United States leaves out a lot of the painful truth of our Nation's History.

"While we take the month of November to acknowledge and celebrate the influences of American Indian people, communities, nations, and cultures in Wisconsin, learning about history and culture should not conclude at the end of the month. It is imperative that educators integrate meaningful and authentic teaching and learning opportunities on Native American heritage, cultures, histories, treaties, tribal sovereignty, and contemporary issues into learning experiences year-round." (Source: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction)

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