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SIRS Discoverer Spotlight of the Month: National Native American Heritage Month

Each November, the United States celebrates National American Indian Heritage Month by honoring Native Americans and their diverse cultures, contributions and achievements. Many achievements and influences can be found in art, music, literature, agriculture, spirituality, and medicine. National American Indian Heritage Month has been a significant national celebration since 1990. This yearly commemoration honors Native Americans’ accomplishments and their role in the development of American culture and society, while recognizing the evolution of the Native American experience and emphasizing the importance of preserving Native traditions and heritage. Visit the November SIRS Discoverer Spotlight and join us in commemorating the cultures and recognizing the hardships of Native Americans. Young researchers can read about Crazy Horse as a child; discover the history of the Sioux tribe; explore the wonders of totem poles, and much more.

Edward S. Curtis [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Other topics to research can include:

SKS Spotlight of the Month: National American Indian Heritage Month

Before Europeans arrived on North American soil, Native Americans had lived and prospered on the rich, diverse land for thousands of years. By the time colonization programs began in the late 16th century, disease brought by explorers and colonists had devastated Native American tribes along the eastern coast. Many died.

Native Americans at a Powwow <br /> by U.S.D.A./Larry Rana, via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter [Public Domain]

Native Americans at a Powwow
by U.S.D.A./Larry Rana, via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter [Public Domain]

As history shows us, European colonization and settlement continued across the United States as wars ravaged tribes and destroyed relationships between the natives and newcomers. It is a history fraught with violence and emotion.

In the mid 19th-century–a mere 164 years ago–the federal government took action to promote peace between Native American tribes and European settlers. The Indian Appropriations Act created Indian reservations in the region of Oklahoma, an effort that instigated anger, erupting in more battles and wars.

The Indian New Deal of 1934 provided additional rights to native tribes and allowed and encouraged these tribes to govern themselves. Some compensation programs paid reparations for lost lands and broken tribes, but not all of these programs were successful. Throughout the 20th century, Native American activist groups struggled for rights and causes significant to their people.

In the 21st century, Native Americans are revered for their beautiful cultures and remembered for their harmonious connection with the land and nature. But issues facing native peoples and tribes remain unsettled. Many people feel strongly that the deep wounds afflicted on these populations are not healed. Economic, emotional, and social difficulties continue to plague Native American tribes living on Indian reservations. Hot-button issues persist in mainstream American culture, such as the controversy surrounding the Redskins and their team name and mascot.

This November, be sure to celebrate National American Indian Heritage Month. Engage your students in the incredibly important history of Native Americans. Introduce them to significant native people of the past, such as Red Cloud, Squanto, Crazy Horse, and Sacajawea. Teach them about the ways and cultures of tribes, such as Cherokee, Cree, and Iroquois. Help foster in your students a love and appreciation for Native American art and customs. Join SKS and its November SKS Spotlight of the Month in emphasizing the significance of the great heritage and complicated history of Native Americans.

November: Native American Heritage Month

Native American Dancing at the National Powwow

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush declared November National American Indian Heritage Month, now more commonly known as Native American Heritage Month.  The endeavor to gain national recognition for the contributions and traditions of the first Americans had finally come to fruition some 75 years after initially being proposed in 1915.

Most of us are familiar with Native American figures like Crazy Horse, Geronimo and Sitting Bull.  We have also learned about major events in Native American history such as the Trail of Tears, the Battle of the Little Bighorn and Wounded Knee.  But have you heard about the trial of Standing Bear?  What about Sarah WinnemuccaGhost Dance?  The Carlisle Indian School?  The American Indian Movement?  eLibrary can help you learn about these Native American topics and many more with its array of Native American resources.  Find general history and culture in the Encyclopedia of North American Indians.  Read newspapers and magazines such as Indian Country Today and The Circle: News from an American Indian Perspective to gain insight on contemporary topics like Native American sports team names and maintaining Native American heritage.  eLibrary also offers books on major historical events including Trail of Tears and Wounded Knee.  Finally, check out Research Topics on individual tribes from the lesser known Nez Perce to the more well-known Cherokee.

Take time this month to peruse Native American offerings in eLibrary.  Learn the who, what, where and why of Native American history.  Meet Native Americans you do not know.  Discover a heritage that may be new to you.