Help Start the Conversation
As the month of November peddles valiantly through falling leaves and colder temperatures, the changing season calls on a lot to be grateful for. Did you know that November is Native American Heritage Month? We’re excited to share insight and homage on this important dedication. As we publish many stories of and about Native voices, it’s part of our ethos to make space in the publishing industry for narratives that are all encompassing and reflective of the community around us.
Join us in taking a few extra moments this month to read Native stories. We want to help empower you to not only explore Native authors, but to take time to learn about a history that is often underrepresented on book shelves everywhere. All this week on the blog we are going to celebrate Native American Heritage Month by doing our best to create a landscape of understanding and appreciation in celebrating Native American Heritage Month.
Dr. Arthur C. Parker, former director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, N.Y began his plight towards Native American recognition by persuading the Boy Scouts of America to designate one day per year to honor what was called, “ the First Americans Day.” A Seneca Indian himself, Parker’s enthusiasm for such an observation opened the door for proper recognition in the United States.
Gaining traction throughout the country, in 1990 the United States Government finally took action. What transpired was former president George H.W. Bush signing a joint resolution designating the whole month of November to be, “National American Indian Heritage Month.”
The bill, signed on August 3, 1990 was an action taken by the US government to provide a platform for Native American people to bring forward their culture in a way that justly demanded increased visibility and attention. Having formal legislation allowed proper funding for many local tribes to appropriately share their culture, history, traditions and so much more to their communities. The first sponsor of American Indian Heritage Month was through the American Indian Heritage Foundation, led by Win-yan-sa-han-wi.
Having visibility of this magnitude is not the only step towards bettering the cultural representation of Indigenous people in society. It is however a valiant step in riding the gap between finding solutions towards sharing the land in a respectful way and offering a space to commemorate those that occupied it first.
As a result of the legislation, Federal Agencies are encouraged thus to provide ample information and resources for their employees pertaining to the rights of Native Americans, their culture, and helping to assist them in overall job awareness.
In The Book Industry
Just this year, the Library of Congress appointed Joy Harjo as the Poet Laureate Consultant. She is the first Native American poet to serve in the position. Joy Harjo is an enrolled member of the Muscogee Creek Nation and is also the first Poet Laureate of Oklahoma. Her work is stunning. Having authored over nine books of poetry, Joy dedicated much of her award to, “the ancestors and teachers of the Muscogee Creek people, the librarians who opened so many doors for all of us, and the original poets of the indigenous tribal nations of these lands, who were joined by diverse peoples from nations all over the world to make this country and this country’s poetry.”
Closer to Home
There is a lot we can do to respect the Indigenous people of America. With nearly everything in life, we do better when we the take time to understand the bigger picture. Below are some helpful links that provide important information around Native American Heritage Month that we hope will shed insight and clarity on the observation.
While you’re at it, check out some of our own books! We’re very proud to share the work of our published Native authors, and we’re hopeful their stories will resonate profoundly with all who read them.