Remember Native Culture
Ways To Celebrate, Remember Native Culture
(November marks the recognition of American Indian Heritage month, a time to reflect on the vibrant tribes and cultures that first inhabited our nation. With 567 federally recognized Indian tribes, reservations and pueblos across more than 30 states in the United States, the cultural impact of Native Americans is significant and diverse.
Though each tribal nation is culturally and governmentally distinct, they often share core values of great significance in the everyday lives of Native communities, including:
* Personal values of generosity, valor and honesty;
* Family values of wisdom, knowledge and respect – especially for Elders and children;
* Universal values of interconnectedness between nature, each other and every living thing.
American Indian Heritage Month is also a time to remember the painful history Native Americans endured, as well as the harsh realities many communities still face. You may be surprised to learn some Native Americans living in the most underserved and geographically isolated reservations in the United States suffer daily from third world living conditions, such as a lack of electricity, telephone and Internet, and contaminated drinking water.
“People on the reservations have been exposed to numerous hardships – whether it is losing your electricity, not having enough wood, not having enough propane to get you through the month or cutting back to two meals a day,” says Darwin Long of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
According to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the basic standard of living for Native Americans remains well below the rest of the U.S., and the conditions these communities face are unacceptable in 21st century America. That is why aid to these communities and remembrance is so critical to their well-being.
Partnership With Native Americans, a nonprofit organization committed to championing hope for a brighter future for Native Americans, launched a 30-day spotlight on Native America to honor the history, celebrate the culture and reveal everyday realities of life on the reservations via www.nativepartnership.org/NativeHeritage. You can celebrate American Indian cultures all month by getting further involved. Here are some ideas.
* Learn about today’s reservations and what makes each one unique – from the Navajo Nation that occupies 11 million acres across Arizona, New Mexico and Utah to the Ponca tribe of Nebraska that has a total tribal enrollment of only 30.
* Read books by Native American authors Sherman Alexie (“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian”) and Charles Eastman (“Living in Two Worlds: The American Indian Experience”).
* Watch films that explore topics of importance to Native people, including “We Shall Remain: America Through Native Eyes,” “Up Heartbreak Hill” and “Bridge the Gap to Pine Ridge.”.
* Honor the approximately 200,000 Native American veterans and the important role they play in the U.S. military.
* Visit a local Native American museum – such as the Journey Museum in the Black Hills of South Dakota – or a Native site operated by the National Park Service, such as the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site in Colorado.
* Remember the impact of notable Native American leaders, including Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, Standing Bear and many more.
* Understand the harsh realities some Native communities still face and pledge to support. Partnership With Native Americans assists 250,000 Native Americans each year and works to advance strong, self-sufficient communities by addressing immediate relief and working towards long-term solutions.
To learn more about Native culture, visit www.NativePartnership.org and check your local museum or visitor’s center for additional events and activities that recognize the lasting heritage and cultural contributions of Native Americans.
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