American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage (AIAN) Month has evolved from its inception when President Ronald Reagan declared the week of November 23-30, 1986, as “American Indian Week.” In 1990, President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating the month of November as “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Since 1995, every U.S. President has issued annual proclamations designating the month of November as the time to celebrate the cultures, accomplishments, and contributions of Native Indians and Alaska Natives. 

While each indigenous nation has its own stories, several themes link them together between the land and the people, and the supernatural and the natural worlds. Native American stories have influenced and helped shape American literature. One of my favorite stories is “The Two Wolves” as told by a Cherokee elder to his young grandson. You will find the story on the website. It is important to explore the heritage, culture, and experiences of indigenous peoples throughout history and their influence on our society and the world. Because of their mutual commitment to the preservation of the environment,  the U.S. National Park Service and the indigenous communities partner together in recognizing the gifts of Mother Earth.

Indigenous peoples often have a strong attachment to, understanding of, and respect for their native lands in the plains of the United States, the Canadian prairies, or the Amazon rainforest. This connection is frequently apparent in the wise words of indigenous leaders past and present. With many indigenous communities on the frontlines of the battle to protect our natural world, this wisdom is perhaps more important than ever.

Native American Heritage Month allows us to spread awareness and educate people about the diversity of Native Americans in the past and present. This year, Google Arts and Culture, in collaboration with the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) features ten ways to celebrate Native American Heritage Month, where you can learn about the Native American Code Talkers of World War II, 70 years of Native American history at Mesa Verde National Park, contemporary indigenous art, Mujeres de Humo (Women of Smoke) cuisine, warrior women of the Kayapo tribe, and the history of the Cherokee Phoenix. You will find these at:

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