November has been considered National Native American Heritage Month almost every year since 1990. This year is no exception, with President Barack Obama declaring November as National Native American Heritage Month again on October 31. As he said in his proclamation, and recorded on the Indian Country Today Media Network:
From Alaskan mountain peaks to the Argentinian pampas to the rocky shores of Newfoundland, Native Americans were the first to carve out cities, domesticate crops, and establish great civilizations. When the Framers gathered to write the United States Constitution, they drew inspiration from the Iroquois Confederacy, and in the centuries since, American Indians and Alaska Natives from hundreds of tribes have shaped our national life. During Native American Heritage Month, we honor their vibrant cultures and strengthen the government-to-government relationship between the United States and each tribal nation.
As we observe this month, we must not ignore the painful history Native Americans have endured – a history of violence, marginalization, broken promises, and upended justice. There was a time when Native languages and religions were banned as part of a forced assimilation policy that attacked the political, social, and cultural identities of Native Americans in the United States. Through generations of struggle, American Indians and Alaska Natives held fast to their traditions, and eventually the United States Government repudiated its destructive policies and began to turn the page on a troubled past.
You can find out more about this annual event on the website dedicated to it, http://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov/. It is a joint effort presented by the Library of Congress, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institute, to name a few of the organizations, that are celebrating the traditions, music, crafts, dance and ancestry of the Native Americans.
While there are many events scheduled this November, which you can read about on the above site, the Grand Canyon National Park will be celebrating this Thursday with special presentations and demonstrations to celebrate the contributions and accomplishments made by the first people to inhabit America.
This year’s morning presentation will take place on Thursday, November 14, at 10 in the morning. Held at the Shrine of the Ages in the park, it will focus on a new publication entitled “American Indians and the Civil War,” published by Eastern National, American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association, National Park Service and the Bureau of Indian Education.
The evening performance, beginning at 7 PM, will include cultural dancing presented by the Guardians of the Canyon Ram Dancers, Dishchii’bikoh Apache Crown Dancers, and the Hopi Warriors of Grand Canyon.
For links to other places to learn more about Native American heritage you can check out this page on the National Park Service site, Celebrate Native American Heritage
The beautiful image at the top of this page is of the Grand Canyon at Powell Point, taken by Tuxyso, and used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.