Native American Heritage Month provides an opportunity to teach children about the contributions, histories and cultures of Indigenous peoples and acknowledges the tremendous contributions they have made to our country.
At Connecticut Children’s, we celebrate Native American Heritage Month and other culture months as part of our journey to make our organization more welcoming and inclusive. Our organization adopted a Land Acknowledgement earlier this year, which honors the traditional custodians of the land on which Connecticut Children’s hospital and clinics are now located. We also honor the month with our team members, patients and their families by displaying signage in our hospital, providing educational resources, sharing team member profiles, and much more. We also encourage families to try new activities to better understand and appreciate the history and contributions of Indigenous peoples in our country.
Here are some ideas to consider during Native American Heritage Month and all year long:
- Learn about Indigenous tribes in your area. Set aside time to explore native cultures virtually with your children. The Connecticut State Library offers a full list of historical tribes in Connecticut. Also, Native Land’s online map shows federally-recognized tribes in Connecticut and beyond.
- Read children’s books written by authors or illustrated by artists who identify as Native American. To get you started, Social Justice Books offers suggestions for early childhood, upper elementary, young adult and adult readers.
- Sample authentic Native American food. This is a great way to get your kids involved in the kitchen. For ideas, check out the First Nations Development Institute and Powwows.com, which both share authentic recipes.
- For additional ideas, Connecticut Children’s Growing Healthy Blog offers additional ideas for how you can honor Native American Heritage Month with kids and shares lesser-known facts about the month.
Here’s some background information on Native American Heritage Month.
The celebration of Native American culture started in the early 1900s when the Boy Scouts of America set aside a day to honor the first Americans, at the request of Dr. Arthur Parker, a Seneca Indian. In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association formally approved a plan to advocate for American Indian Day. New York State became the first state to honor American Indian Day in 1916. Several other states followed in adopting the day of recognition. Native American Heritage Month was first recognized as an official month-long celebration in 1990, when U.S. President George H. W. Bush approved a joint proclamation designating the month as Native American Heritage Month. Similar proclamations have been issued every year since.
Currently, in addition to Native American Heritage Month, numerous states and cities have taken steps to honor Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of Columbus Day in October. In 2021, President Joe Biden became the first president to honor Indigenous Peoples’ Day by issuing a proclamation. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is observed on the same day as Columbus Day, which was designated as a federal holiday by Congress in 1934.
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