Native American Heritage Month

What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the United States has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose. In 1990 President George H.W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations on “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month” have been issued each year since 1994.

General Information

The Library of Congress, along with the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, offers a site devoted to Native American Heritage Month. Offering information on exhibits and collections, images, and audio and video, the site offers online exhibits such as “Strange Comfort” on Native American sculptor Brian Jungen and “A Song for the Horse Nation” on the horse’s influence on American Indian tribes from the 1600s to the present.

Library Programming

Rapid City (S.D.) Public Library offered “Living Traditions,” and art exhibit featuring Dakota, Nakota & Lakota art; a display from the Black Hills Pow Wow Association; a “No School Discovery Day” where students can learn how to mke Native American jewelry; a book discussion on Fools Crow by Native American author James Welch; and a “Lunch & Learn” session on diabetes, with a special emphasis on how it impacts the Native American community and featuring Native American food.

Hartsville (S.C.) Memorial Library hosted Mingo Big Bear Claw, chief of Chaloklowa Chickasaw, as part of its summer reading program. More then 100 children gathered to listen to the chief describe how the Native Americans lived many years ago in the area.

San Marcos (Tex.) Public Library, in partnership with the Indigenous Cultures Institute, offered the lecture “We Have Survived” by Dr. Mario Garza, who shed some light on why many Hispanics have rejected their Native American heritage and, instead, embrace the Spanish-European identity.

Teaching Resources

The National Museum of the American Indian provides a variety of materials for use in the classroom. All have been developed by the museum’s education staff in collaboration with Native community members. These materials offer rich Native perspectives on the history and contemporary life of many different Native tribes.

The Library of Congress’s lesson plans “American Indian leaders and culture. Study essays, music, maps and images related to the treatment and portrayal of American Indians by European explorers and settlers. Examine treaties dating from 1778–1842 and images and documents relating to assimilating American Indians through education.”

The National Endowment for the Humanities offers Native American Heritage Month resources on its EDSITEment website. The pages provide general information as well as links to featured lessons and Web sites.

The Newberry Library hosts a multimedia educational website titled “Indians of the Midwest, Past and Present.” Supported by National Endowment for the Humanities, the website focuses on Native people of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio to explore several contemporary issues with roots in the history of the region: tribal sovereignty, hunting and fishing rights, casinos, treaties, identity, repatriation, and stereotypes.

Other Resources

Posters are available from the USGS Native American Tribal Liaison Team. In addition, the following libraries have developed a variety of resource lists for Native American Heritage Month, including reading lists, film lists, and Web links: