November was officially designated as a heritage month to recognize America’s original inhabitants and celebrate their rich culture and contributions in 1990. But efforts to pay tribute to Indigenous people started long before.
Red Fox James, a member of the Blackfeet Nation, rode on horseback across the U.S. seeking approval for a day to honor Native Americans and presented an endorsement from 24 states to the White House in 1915. The first official American Indian Day was declared by the governor of New York in May 1916.
This year’s heritage month theme is “Celebrating Tribal Sovereignty and Identity.” There are 574 federally recognized nations, tribes, and pueblos within the U.S., comprising over 3.7 million people. Self-governance is at the heart of Native people’s ability to protect and enhance the health, safety, and welfare of their communities.
Here Are Some Ways Get Involved in Philly:
- Visit the National Constitution Center, which is holding a series of talks and activities highlighting the local history of Indigenous peoples. Take in the exhibits in-person, or attend a virtual event about the history of Thanksgiving.
- Attend a professional development workshop at the Museum of the American Revolution, intended for teachers who want to include Indigenous perspectives and context in their lessons on the Revolutionary War.
- Read more about the Indigenous groups with ties in and around Philadelphia.
- Grab coffee or a beer at local businesses celebrating the Native American heritage of their owners.