For more than 30 years, the U.S. has celebrated Native American Heritage Month every November. Dedicated to the significance of Native people and their contributions to North America, it’s the perfect time to learn about Native peoples’ heritage, languages, traditions, crafts and culture. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Discover the land you’re living on right now, a great way to focus your learning journey. Use this Native Lands interactive map and enter your zip code — chances are there are educational opportunities nearby. Or study the Native histories of your favorite wild spaces like National and State Parks and Forests. With 574 federally recognized tribes across the U.S. and nearly 6.8 million Native Americans, there is incredible diversity among communities, found no matter where you are in North America.
2. Take a field trip! Learn more about the Navajo Nation, whose territory stretches into Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. Hopi land also extends through northeastern Arizona and stretches to more than 1.5 million acres. Learn more about these cultures by visiting their reservations and experiencing the landscapes and traditions that have shaped these ancient populations. Or explore South Dakota and learn about the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Learn about Chief Henry Standing Bear’s initiation of the Crazy Horse Memorial, a mountain sculpture begun in 1948 on which work continues today. Once completed, it will be the world’s largest mountain sculpture funded entirely through a nonprofit organization. Or head north to Alaska and learn more about Native Alaskan culture by exploring Talkeetna, a historic village nestled at the base of Mount Denali.
3. Try volunteering. One option is to volunteer at a Navajo Nation school and give back while learning. Becoming hands-on gives you the opportunity to see first-hand the challenges faced by tribal members and experience Native culture, traditional foods and crafts.
4. Read to learn. No matter what genre you’re drawn to, there are great reads out there by Native American authors. From fiction to nonfiction, history to memoir to poetry, it will be easy to put together a fun and informative reading list. You can find some of the books we love on our Native American Authors booklist.
5. Explore online resources. Try Circle of Stories, a PBS project that features documentaries, artwork and music to honor and share Native American storytelling. Discover the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. Or learn by watching documentaries like We Shall Remain, a five-part American Experience series highlighting Native American’s struggle for land.
No matter how you decide to curate your learning journey, you can read more about National Native American Heritage Month. Interested in continuing your discoveries with Road Scholar? Discover our programs incorporating Native American studies taking place throughout the year and around the country.