Ever wondered where your ancestors are from? Ancestry and genealogy sites continue to grow in popularity as an increasing number of people become curious about their ancestral heritage. Searching through family histories and stories has become so popular there are even commercials promoting it. What do you know about the ancestry of the land on which you live?
In the United States, November is National Native American Heritage Month. This celebratory event is also known as ‘American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month’ and ‘National American Indian Heritage Month’. During this month, we have the opportunity to learn about the Indigenous people of our great land and celebrate their history, culture, and languages.
Long before the European Settlement, North America was inhabited by a swath of different tribes, ethnic groups, and societies. It was a civilization, like any other, based on alliances, trade agreements, treaties, marriages, etc. We acknowledge the ‘complex history of settlement had devastating effects on Indigenous people.’ Yet, after all these hundreds of years, the resilience of Indigenous tribes throughout Alaska, Hawaii, and the continental US have endured. There are over 7 million Native Americans/Alaskans still living in the US. More than 300 federally recognized American Indian reservations and 574 federally recognized Indian tribes are thriving still today. While the complex history of settlement has had devastating effects on Indigenous people and their livelihood, it is important to note that not all is lost. There are still many who pass on the Native American heritage stories and histories; it should be acknowledged just how strong a community it is that a lot of Indigenous culture has stood the test of time.
We hope that by celebrating this month together, we can appreciate their spiritual culture, deepen our understanding, and listen to their stories. Let’s learn from them together! The National Park Service, PBS, and many other national organizations help spread the awareness of the history and continuing culture of our Indigenous peoples.