November 2020: Native American Heritage Month

November: Native American Heritage Month

For Native American Heritage Month, we will explore the heritage, culture, and experience of indigenous peoples both historically and in American life today.
America is a vast land of many cultures dating back thousands of years to the original inhabitants of the land. Today, programs, partnerships, and parks preserve and share the stories and heritage of Indigenous people. This month with November designated as National Native American Heritage Month, highlight the history, heritage, traditions, and contemporary way of life of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians (AI/AN/NH).
  • Share the connections your site has to American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian heritage, history, and their way of life.
  • Explore the culture and experiences of AI/AN/NH in your community today.
  • Invite American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, or a local indigenous group to present about their culture, ancestral homeland, and contemporary way of life.
    • There are 573 federally recognized Indian Nations plus other tribes located throughout the United States who are recognized by their respective state governments.
  • Consider connecting this theme with other events in November, including Veterans Day.
  • Use objects or artifacts in your museum collection or achievements by indigenous individuals to share history and heritage of native people past and present.
  • Encourage local teacher to use the Honoring Tribal Legacies teachings in their classrooms.

Words Matter

It’s important to use language correctly in our messaging. Native nations were separated from their home lands due to battles, genocide, and western expansion. There are distinctions among various tribes resulting from geographic location, language, and cultural practices. For example, within the Lakota Nation (aka Sioux), there are seven bands and within one band there are three: Hidasta, Arikara, and Mandan. Within the Cheyenne, there are two: Northern and Southern. It’s similar for the Arapaho, River Crow, Mountain Crow, and others. In addition, there are various regional identities, such as the Northern Plains, Southern Plains, Wetlands, etc.

The Harpers Ferry Center Editorial Style Guide provides guidance for NPS staff and partners. We are also grateful for assistance from CIRCLE, the Council for Indigenous Relevancy, Communication, Leadership, and Excellence employee resource group, in developing this guidance. Here are some specific items that might be helpful:
  • Create, develop, and share educational activities and youth programs related to AI/AN/NH both past and present. AI/AN/NH are contemporary and ‘living’ cultures and that should be conveyed to the staff and to the public.
  • Alaska Native This term refers to the indigneous people of the area. Native Alaskan is anyone from Alaska (including non-indigenous).
  • American Indian Some tribes (and their associated parks) prefer Native American. Use specific tribal name(s) whenever possible, accurate, and appropriate. See also First Nations, tribal names.
  • First Nation, First Nations Refers to aboriginal people in Canada who are neither Inuit (people of the Canadian Arctic) nor Métis (descendants of First Nation people who married Europeans). Often used in the plural in the collective sense, as in a program for First Nations youth. The term is widely used in Canada but is not used in the US, except in connection with Métis whose homelands include northwest Minnesota, North Dakota, or other northern states. See also American Indian.
  • Native American Use if requested by specific tribes or parks. See American Indian.
  • tribal name Use specific tribal name(s) whenever possible, accurate, and appropriate. Also the preference is to use the singular noun: Navajo, Lakota, Tlingit. See also American Indian. Examples: The Navajo entered Canyon de Chelly about 300 years ago. The Anishinaabek fished in Lake Superior.

Featured Webpages

American Indians and Lewis and Clark More content is added to these pages as we add more American Indian articles to our website.


Looking for something ready-made to share?

The Native American experience with Lewis and Clark is as varied and diverse as the Native American tribes themselves. #LewisandClarkTrail #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth
Read more:

The Native American story is the story of the trail. Come and learn more about Native Americans and the Trail. #LewisandClarkTrail #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth
Lewis and Clark and the Nez Perce:

The Corps of Discovery succeeded with the help of Native Americans and showed the value of collaboration between people. #LewisandClarkTrail #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth
One story:

The #LewisandClarkTrail is near many tribal lands. Let the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Experience website assist you in planning.
Social Media hashtags: #FindYourPark, #FindYourTrail, #LewisandClarkTrail, #IndigenousHeritage, #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth

Lewis and Clark Events That Happened This Month

(ready made posts to share)
“Great joy in camp we are in View of the Ocian, this great Pacific Octean which we been So long anxious to See. and the roreing or noise made by the waves brakeing on the rockey Shores (as I Suppose) may be heard distictly"
-William Clark, Thursday, November 7, 1805

On November 24, 1805, the Captains took a “vote,” or more likely a “poll” of everyone, including York, Clark’s slave, and Sacagawea, the Indian wife of Toussaint Charbonneau. The critical decision – where to spend the winter. The majority chose to cross to the south side of the Columbia, near modern-day Astoria, Oregon, to build winter quarters, which soon would be known as Fort Clatsop.
The Corps spent just 10 days at Middle Village, which historians have labeled as “Station Camp” because it was Clark’s primary survey station to produce his detailed and accurate map of the mouth of the Columbia and surrounding area.
More on Station Camp:

On November 14, 1805, while the expedition sheltered at Dismal Nitch, Lewis “concluded to proceed on by land & find if possible the white people the Indians Say is below and examine if a Bay is Situated near the mouth of this river as laid down by Vancouver in which we expect, if there is white traders to find them.” On November 17, Lewis “returned haveing travesed Haleys Bay to Cape Disapointment and the Sea Coast to the North for Some distance.” Gass remarked, “They had been round the bay, and seen where white people had been in the course of the summer: but they had all sailed away.” The next day Clark and 11 others “who wished to See more of the main Ocian” made the trip to Cape Disappointment and the northern coastline, rejoining the main party at Station Camp on November 20.
More on Cape Disappointment:

Last updated: January 29, 2020

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