Honoring National Native American Heritage Month

Image of Native American and Indigenous people at a powwow

Today we’re excited to host Paul Gowder of PowWows.com on the Mediavine blog to share a bit about Native American Heritage month and ways content creators can honor indigenous voices.

November is Native American Heritage Month, or as it’s also known, American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. The month is a great opportunity to celebrate the diverse cultures, one-of-a-kind traditions and rich ancestral histories of people who were the first inhabitants of the United States.

Native American Heritage Month originally started as a weeklong acknowledgment when President Reagan proclaimed the week of November 23-30, 1986, as “American Indian Week.” But every U.S. president since 1995 has issued annual proclamations designating the entire calendar month of November as a special time to celebrate the contributions of indigenous people.

While there’s no shortage of ways to celebrate diversity and Native American Heritage Month, I’ve compiled a list of ways creators can support their Native communities this November.

Take a look.

Promote Pow Wows in Your Area

Have you ever attended a pow wow? They’re beautiful, sacred events at which you’ll hear incredible music, see some amazing dance, maybe try some scrumptious fry bread and connect with others in your community. Though the COVID-19 pandemic obviously put a lot of in-person events on hold, more live gatherings are starting to make their way back into the fold.

If you want to promote a local pow wow, you can do so by checking the official Pow Wow Calendar to see which events are happening in your area! The site has several virtual events too, so there’s something for everybody.

Support Native Businesses

With so many “Native American products” for sale out there, sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between authentic Native creators and those simply looking to cash in on Native trends. That’s why it’s critical to do your due diligence and seek out only brands that sell genuine Native American goods — clothing, jewelry, beadwork, home goods, cosmetics — you name it.

But don’t just buy from Native American businesses; if you’re creating your own holiday gift guide, include them and share some of the amazing products they sell. That way these hard-working business owners can get even more exposure and continue crafting the authentic Native products we love.

Here are some of the best places to shop for genuine Native American products.

De-Colonize Your Thanksgiving Dinner

Every year in late November, millions of Americans celebrate Thanksgiving by gathering around a table of turkey and sides, and they feast. The fall holiday was actually founded in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln as a means to unify the battle-weary country post-Civil War.  

However, the narrative that’s still pushed in many public schools — that Pilgrims and Indians happily joined together for a peaceful meal — isn’t just grossly inaccurate. It’s actually quite disrespectful to Native Americans and the trauma their ancestors endured. There’s a lot more to the story. 

Thankfully, many indigenous chefs — and indigenous amateur cooks — are using food to help correctly tell the story.

There’s a lot you can do to de-colonize your Thanksgiving Day meal and actually honor indigenous people in the process. For starters, check out Sean Sherman’s The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen cookbook for plenty of Thanksgiving recipes from indigenous chefs.

Stream Native American Podcasts

Why are we seeing such a podcast boom now, given that podcasts have been around for more than 15 years?

Well, you could ask the same question about social video’s explosion in the 2010s. All the same, look for podcasts to continue to grow their share of our overall attention in the coming years. 

If you have some downtime during travel to see family around Thanksgiving and you need some good content to stream, fear not. There are a host of excellent podcasts you can listen to, all produced by Native American creators.

Bonus: Quality audio is an excellent way to learn something or get in your daily giggles without cramming more screen time into your day.

Check out our list of some of the very best Native American podcasts, for starters.

Visit a Native American Museum

Many museums took a substantial economic hit as they were forced to shut their doors for months at a time. With museums reopening across the country, there has never been a better time to show your support for these priceless cultural institutions.

American Indian museums are one of the best ways to take in Native American history and culture. Here’s a list of some of the very best Native American museums in the U.S. 

We’re thankful for Paul and his willingness to share himself and his community with us here on the Mediavine blog. In case you missed it, Paul dropped by our Teal Talk couch to chat with Senior Director of Marketing Jenny Guy about Building Community.

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