November is National American Indian & Alaska Native Heritage Month. Many people don’t learn that this is celebrated in November and, if they do, they hear the short title which is National American Indian Heritage Month. According to the Library of Congress Web site, this month, “celebrates and recognizes the accomplishments of the people who were the original inhabitants, explorers and settlers of the Unites States.”
In 1986, Congress delegated November as National American Indian Heritage Month. Congress then authorized a proclamation issued by President Ronald Reagan declaring November 23-30, 1986, as American Indian Week. The Library of Congress Web site says that the proclamation and the law delegating November as the month to celebrate this, “recognized American Indians as the first inhabitants of the lands that now constitute the United States as well as making mention of their contributions to American society.” Native Americans made many contributions to society, such as food, medicine, clothing, literature and folklore. The Web site also says Congress chose November because this month concludes the traditional harvest season and ends in Thanksgiving.
According to the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs Web site, this year’s theme is “Pride in Our Heritage with Gratitude to Our Elders.” This department will team with the U.S. Park Service to present special programs and exhibits in Washington, D.C., to honor the Native Americans and their contributions to society.
But how do you celebrate this month if you can’t make it to D.C. at such a busy time of the semester? You can start by heading to the Rohrbach Library and checking the catalog for our books on Native American culture. Also, the Multicultural Center is hosting a Native American Celebration on Tuesday, November 10, from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. in the Student Union Building’s Multipurpose Room. This celebration will feature the Piscataway Nation Indian Singers and Dancers. Whether you do one of these or both, you will be sure to acquire a wealth of knowledge about an important part of US past and current history.