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November 2023: Native American Heritage Month
Pablo Foundation celebrates tribal sovereignty and identity through National Native American Heritage Month in November. We honor this land’s first inhabitants and the deep worth of their cultures, beliefs, and contributions to humanity.
Dr. Arthur Caswell Parker, a member of the Cattaraugus Seneca Tribe whose Seneca name was Gawasco Waneh, lead an effort which resulted in the State of New York marking the first American Indian Day in 1916 to recognize the “First Americans.” That designation eventually evolved into “National American Indian Heritage Month” beginning in 1990. Variants of the name include “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month.”
There is no single Native American culture or language. The terminology used here provides general guidelines. “The best term is always what an individual person or tribal community uses to describe themselves. Replicate the terminology they use or ask what terms they prefer.”
Key Concepts from the National Museum of the Native American:
"American Indians are both individuals and members of a tribal group."
"For millennia, American Indians have shaped and been shaped by their culture and environment."
"Elders in each generation teach the next generation their values, traditions, and beliefs through their own tribal languages, social practices, arts, music, ceremonies, and customs."
"Kinship and extended family relationships have always been and continue to be essential in the shaping of American Indian cultures."
"American Indian cultures have always been dynamic and changing. Interactions with Europeans and Americans brought accelerated and often devastating changes to American Indian cultures."
"Native people continue to fight to maintain the integrity and viability of indigenous societies."
"American Indian history is one of cultural persistence, creative adaptation, renewal, and resilience."
"American Indians share many similarities with other indigenous people of the world, along with many differences."
The land that the City of Eau Claire is on was once a meeting ground for the Ojibwe, the Dakota, and the Ho-Chunk Nations; the Ojibwe and Dakota in particular fought over the region for generations. The Ojibwe ceded land that included Eau Claire to the U.S. government in an 1837 treaty, the terms of which were formally betrayed by President Zachary Taylor in 1850. “In 1852, an Ojibwe delegation to Washington, D.C., led by 93-year-old Kechewaishke (known in English as Chief Buffalo), managed to convince the new president, Millard Fillmore, to reverse the order. Fillmore ultimately created the six Ojibwe reservations that still exist in northern Wisconsin.”
On November 16th, UWEC will host The Native Pride Dancers who “strive to educate and entertain audiences of all ages throughout the world about the beauty, skill, and majesty of Native American music and dance while creating a moving artistic experience that engages the audience.” For tickets and more information, visit tinyurl.com/nativepride2023.
While this appears to be the only local event to mark Native American Heritage Month this year, you can find a schedule of multiple presentations and webinars through the Administration for Native Americans that will be available online at tinyurl.com/ananahm2023.
Sources: nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Museum of the Native American, Indian Nations of Wisconsin by Dr. Patty Loew, Dr. Debra Barker, VolumeOne, Wisconsin Historical Society, UW-Eau Claire, & Administration for Native Americans