In November, we honor and celebrate Native American Heritage Month. By participating, learning about, and enjoying the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of Native Americans we can all build community and a sense of belonging.
In raising a general awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to face and conquer these challenges, we are all called on to embody the Partners core value of Respect and Care for Others.
Evidence shows that Native Americans have been living in what is now North, Central, and South America for 15,000 years. During the Pre-Columbian era, there were thought to be over 1,000 Native American civilizations in what is now the United States. This included about 500 distinct Native languages. The United States government now recognizes 574 Indian Nations. Native American governing systems were used as part of the basis for the early United States government.
One of the ways we can honor this overall history and learn more specifics to better truly empathize and see things from the perspective of other people, is to learn and experience their culture and history.
Great ways to celebrate Native American Heritage Month include:
Consider picking up a book by, and about, indigenous people. Listen to voices different than yours to see things from their perspective. Public Libraries Online, a publication of the Public Library Association, offers “Native American Heritage Month at the Library,” showcasing resources specifically tailored to Native American Heritage Month. The Library of Congress website hosts “Free to Use and Reuse Sets” that include selected images that represent the historical experiences and achievements of indigenous peoples across North America.
The Orange County, Fla., Library System offers a look at the History and Culture of Florida Tribes. You can also find their recommended reading for authors of Native American heritage, and visit their dedicated website “Native American Heritage Month,” for reading recommendations and upcoming events.
The Los Angeles Public Library system has a dedicated Native American Heritage page where they offer curated reading lists, experiences, and more.
These titles and many others are available for free from your local public library.
You can also look into The American Indian Library Association (AILA). “AILA is… committed to disseminating information about Indian cultures, languages, values, and information needs to the library community.” according to their website.
Art & Culture
The link above offers arts and craft events open to the public for Native American Heritage Month from the Orange County, Fla. Library System.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian offers online exhibitions as well as collections at their Washington, D.C. and New York, NY locations.
The National Park Service offers the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Series, which cover entrance fees at national parks and can give you a first-hand opportunity to discover more indigenous stories, people, and places. Chances are good there’s a national park near you!
NPS also has a dedicated website for Native American Heritage Month. Sharing stories of history and heritage, featuring places that matter to Native Americans, and an educator’s portal to facilitate learning.
Last but never least, consider this blog post from D23 “Where to Enjoy Art for Native American Heritage Month at Walt Disney World Resort.”
The North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems (NATIFS), a nonprofit organization founded by Chef Sean Sherman of The Sioux Chef, is dedicated to addressing the economic and health crises affecting Native communities by re-establishing Native foodways, according to their website. The website has recipes, videos, books, and free downloads along with links to vendors that can supply information and ingredients to try your hand at creating indigenous meals. NATIFS also explains why there are so few native American restaurants available to try.
Another option is The Mitsitam Café Cookbook from the Smithsonian. The Mitsitam Café, currently closed for renovations until spring 2024, is located inside the Washington D.C. location of the National Museum of the American Indian. During regular operating conditions, the café serves local, seasonal dishes representing different native American cuisines, from the northeast across the great plains, the northwest, and down to the southwest of America, into Central and South America. The cookbook not only allows you to learn more and try these dishes, the proceeds help support the Smithsonian system.
Did you know that Disney+ offers classic Disney films dubbed into Native Languages? Check out the D23 blog post from last year “Celebrate Native American Heritage Month with Films Dubbed in Native American Languages” to learn more.
You can get to know some Cast Members with Native American Heritage on the Disney website at “Celebrating Disney Cast Members: Native American Heritage Month | Disney.”
“StoryCorps is committed to the idea that everyone has an important story to tell and that everyone’s story matters. Our mission: to help us believe in each other by illuminating the humanity and possibility in us all — one story at a time. Since our founding in 2003, we’ve helped more than 640,000 people across the country have meaningful conversations about their lives. These recordings are collected in the U.S. Library of Congress and in our online archive which is now the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered.” Says the StoryCorps website. You can celebrate Native American Heritage Month with StoryCorps on their dedicated page. You can also participate by recording your own conversations about indigenous experiences and uploading them.
On your own social media accounts, you can share books, podcasts, events, and organizations you have been introduced to above, and recommend them to your family and friends.
Your favorite professional networking platform can also provide you with a way to search for groups and resources to connect with.
Don’t forget to use the “#nativeAmericanheritagemonth” hashtag to connect with others.
Please, always check ahead before you go and ensure the events you are planning to attend are still scheduled and meet your expectations and needs.
Central Florida’s Orange County Region History Center in Downtown Orlando celebrates “History Alive! Florida’s First People” Saturday, November 4. “Before settlers made their way to Florida, there were thriving communities of Indigenous people living here. Discover how people lived off Central Florida’s natural environment for thousands of years through family-friendly activities. Try your hand at building different Native American dwellings, get hands-on with artifact replicas, and more!” according to their website.
The National Museum of the American Indian, part of the Smithsonian Institution, offers a calendar of events, many of which are virtual and run throughout the month.
Local libraries are another great resource for ways to learn about and celebrate Native American cultures; for example, the Orange County, Calif. public libraries offer the “Discover and Go” program to reserve free or low-cost passes to participating organizations like Pretend City Children’s Museum, which is honoring the month with a children’s story time, and the Orange Coast College Planetarium is learning about lunar phases, eclipses, day and night, the sun and seasons are all explained with the help of a very confused and troublesome coyote, straight from Native American folklore. Visit these events, and others, free with your Discover and Go pass.
Disney Cast Members who would like support, or to be allies, can join any of the Native American/Indigenous Business Resource Groups and/or the Asian American/Pacific Islander BERGs that celebrate, among others, Native Hawaiians.
You can also learn more your rights in terms of Indigenous justice here.
Partners’ Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) program is the organization's foundation and compass. By applying a DEIB lens to all work, Partners Cast Members build a sense of community and belonging, working inclusively to achieve common goals.
One way Partners promotes Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) is through the observance and celebration of history and heritage months
Understanding elements of Cast Member’s lives can help us understand how people become who they are; understanding and preserving our past is vital to our future. By weaving together of circumstances and nuances in the past we can develop a deeper and broader comprehension of our current world and forecast a clearer future.
A Proclamation on National Native American Heritage Month, 2023 (WhiteHouse.gov)
National Native American Heritage Month(Department of the Interior Indian Affairs)