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 U.S., has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose. Since 1990, November has been recognized as National Native American Heritage Month after a joint resolution was approved by President George H. W. Bush. Similiar proclamations have been issued each year since 1994.
President Joe Biden issued the 2022 proclamation earlier this month. Governor Gretchen Whitmer also proclaimed November as Native American Heritage Month in the state of Michigan.
Here are five ways you can celebrate Native American history and culture in your school districts this month:
- Learn about the native tribes in your area
Did you know the name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word “mishigamaa,” meaning “large water” or “large lake?”
- Michigan’s three largest tribes are the Ojibwe (also called Chippewa), the Odawa (also called Ottowa), and the Potawatomi (also called the Bode’wadmi).
- Other tribes have lived in Michigan during the land’s long history.
- See the full list of federally recognized tribes in Michigan.
- Read books by or about Native Americans, Alaska Natives, or Native Hawaiians
Ask your local librarian for their favorites!
- The Library of Michigan has a list of Great Lakes Region Native American authors and their works
- Dig deeper into history online
The National Park Service has a Native American History Month website, which puts important people, resources, stories, educator guides, and more right at your fingertips.
- Attend or host an educational event
Local institutions and organizations – including libraries, schools, and cultural groups – will host events, including dance performances. Don’t have one near you? Consider hosting your own!
- Start by contacting a nearby reservation, museum, or cultural group to ask how you can collaborate.
- To ensure your event doesn’t accidentally disrespect Native communities, run ideas by their community leaders first.
- Read about Brimley Area Schools’ many cultural experiences in and out of the classroom.
- Check out MDE’s information and resources to support the ongoing education of Indigenous learners throughout Michigan
- Read Michigan’s Social Studies Standards Guide from the Confederation of Michigan Tribal Education Departments
- Visit a Reservation and/or Museum
You’ll find new ways to understand and appreciate Michigan’s history when you see the state’s story through the eyes of its first people.
- Michigan.org has a list of places to explore Native American History and Culture across the state.
- Trip idea – 4 Must-See Native American Cultural Sites