Native American Heritage Month is observed in November to recognize the achievements and contributions of our Native American community. Native American Heritage Month is a time to acknowledge our country’s past, educate ourselves, and recognize the challenges that Indigenous people are still combating today.
Below, we have included helpful information and resources to help you honor and celebrate:
What to Read
- Carry by Toni Jensen: A powerful, poetic memoir about what it means to exist as an indigenous woman in America.
- Almanac of the Dead by Leslie Marmon Silko: Almanac of the Dead weaves ideas and lives, fate and history, passion and conquest in an attempt to recreate the moral history of the Americas, told from the point of view of the conquered, not the conquerors.
- Winter in the Blood by James Welch: The narrator of this novel is a young Native American man living on the Fort Belknap Reservation in Montana. Sensitive and self-destructive, he searches for something that will bind him to the lands of his ancestors but is haunted by personal tragedy.
- There There by Tommy Orange: The story of twelve Urban Indians living in Oakland, California, who converge and collide on one fateful day.
- Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley: An immersive thriller told through the eyes of 18-year-old Daunis, a biracial, unenrolled member of the Ojibwe tribe.
Indigenous-Owned Businesses to Support
- B.YELLOWTAIL – Fashion line that celebrates ancestral tradition, beauty, and culture and lives up to the motto “Indigenously Designed For All.”
- Beyond Buckskin – Carries products from over 40 individual artists. Purchasing from Beyond Buckskin ensures that Indigenous art is preserved and the artists are supported directly.
- Cheekbone Beauty – Cosmetics brand that gives back 10 percent of profits to Indigenous youth (and other causes) and aims to “create space in the beauty industry where Indigenous youth feel represented and seen.”
- Bedré Fine Chocolates – The brand was purchased in 2000 by the Chickasaw Nation, hoping to continue the mission of making the highest quality of chocolates available. Since then, rich chocolates and recipes have honored Native traditions and history. Bedré is dedicated to supporting its community, giving back to benefit education, health and wellness initiatives, and other philanthropic organizaions within the Chickasaw Nation.
- Birch Bark Coffee Co. – First Nations-owned and operated brand that works with farmers who are Indigenous descendants to source the finest organic and fair-trade beans. Each purchase goes to support clean drinking water, which 270,000+ Indigenous people in present-day Canada still need.
- Naataq Gear – Arctic wear is inspired by the Qaspeq, a traditional Inuit Alaskan garment.
- 21 Degrees North Designs – Handcrafted, ocean-inspired jewelry made by Native Hawaiian artisan Brooke Holt Pennell.
Where to Donate
- Native American Rights Fund (NARF) – The three main tenants of this non-profit involve using legal advocacy to help create a world where “1. Native Americans rights, resource and lifeways are intact and protected. 2. Promises made to Native peoples are upheld. 3. Tribes are able to exercise their sovereign right to manage their own affairs.”
- Native American Heritage Association – A charitable non-profit organization dedicated to helping Native American families in need living on Reservations in South Dakota and Wyoming.
- Partnership with Native Americans: For 30 years, PWNA has developed and delivered a relevant mix of services to help Native American partners address critical needs that contribute to self-sufficiency and help end the cycle of poverty.
- Buffalo Project: A Changemaker Initiative fellowship program that promotes healthy expressions of masculinity and emotion among men, using indigenous ideals in non-indigenous spaces.
Who Inspires Us
- Haunani-Kay Trask – a Hawaiian activist, educator, author, and poet. She served as leader of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement and was professor emeritus at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.
- John Herrington of Chickasaw Nation was the first Native American to fly in space and perform a spacewalk.
- Susan La Flesche Picotte of the Omaha tribe was the first Native American woman to receive a medical degree in the United States, graduating from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1889.
- Wilma Mankiller – The first woman elected to be chief of the Cherokee Nation.
- Jim Thorpe – Descended from the famous Chippewa warrior Black Hawk, he was the first Native American athlete to win an Olympic gold medal.
- James McDonald of the Choctaw tribe was the country’s first Native American lawyer.
- Queen Liliuokalani – The only queen regnant and the last sovereign monarch of the Hawaiian Kingdom. She stepped down as leader of Hawaii, saving her people from bloodshed during the American overthrow of the Hawaiian government.
- Kamehameha, Paiea – A great warrior, who united the islands under his rule, then worked side by side with his people planting and growing crops to help feed his people.
- Duke Paoa Kahanamoku – Olympian and World Ambassador of Surfing
- Israel Kaʻanoʻi Kamakawiwoʻole – Better known as Braddah Iz. His 1993 cover of “Over the Rainbow” is a cultural icon.
For more resources on how to celebrate Native American Heritage Month, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.