Native American Heritage Month

Photo Provided By: Native American Traditions throughout history

Photo Provided By: Native American Traditions throughout history

Ula Peapea, Staff Writer

November is not only a time of celebrating the National Holiday Thanksgiving, it’s also a time to celebrate the history of Native American Heritage.

The National Native American Appreciation Month was created in 1990 to honor Native American contributions, sacrifices, achievements, and culture amongst the years. This month was made to recognize the historical legacy of the original inhabitants of what we now know as The United States of America.

However, Native American Month ideals are undermined by the modern Thanksgiving traditions, often blindsiding families with the rush for food or the preparation for Christmas.

Many people believe that all Native Americans come from the same background, traditions, and cultural tribe, being that because they fall under the category of so-called “Indians”; however, every Native American has their own way of celebrating their customs and ways of life.

“Each tribe has such a story of their creation, struggles, and successes,” stated Joe Watkins, from the National Tribal Preservation Program who comes from a tribe known as “the Choctaw”.

The main purpose throughout the month is to get people to be aware of the contributions Native Americans have made and the very foundation of the country beyond the “Thanksgiving” narrative.

According to Watkins, Native Americans question their background and how life would be today if the ancestors of the tribes that helped the pilgrims survive simply let them sit and watch while they starve. He also wonders if America would even exist, would the colonists have died off or would the history of America be written differently?

“It’s something to think about — especially in the context of the political discussions about illegal immigrants and sending people “back” from whence they came –,” Watkins continued.

The history of Native Americans stretches back for thousands of years.

“To me, the most important facet of their history is that they were in constant touch with nature and the world around them but through forced “re-education”, they almost lost who they are as a people,” said Pamela Miller, a member of National Park Service’s Native American Heritage  

Native American Heritage Month allows Native Americans to reconnect with their roots.

“Many Native Americans are reaffirming their contact with their heritage.  I think, as a person, it shows a tremendous strength of culture,” Miller said.

After prior years of celebrating Native American Heritage Month, many Native Americans set out goals to keep the tradition and the culture alive.

Watkins remarked,“My goals for Native Americans here today is to continue to give them a sense of where they came from and the idea that they are members of a global society even while they are unique members of their own tribal society.”