Every November, our country comes together to celebrate Indigenous Peoples.
By Melissa Farthing, Copy Editor
Last month was Native American Heritage Month. Every November, the United States recognizes and celebrates Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians.
Before this year, I wasn’t aware of Native American Heritage Month. I wanted to write this article to let others know of not just its existence but also its significance. Between 2.5 and 6 million people in the U.S. are Indigenous, according to IWGIA. Despite those large numbers, it feels as though Native American heritage isn’t seen or talked much about in popular culture. Five hundred seventy-four federally recognized tribes exist in the U.S., and their rich history and culture shouldn’t be forgotten.
If you want to learn more about Native American Heritage Month and the Indigenous peoples in our country, one place to start would be visiting nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov. Here, you can find countless resources surrounding Native American culture. One of my favorite features was the Native Cinema Showcase at the National Museum of the American Indian’s website. Between November 12th and 18th, viewers enjoyed many films created by Indigenous filmmakers, which delved into topics relevant to Native Americans. Being an animation major, I especially loved the Future Focus Shorts Program, which showcased animated short films about Native American culture.
The Multicultural Activities Committee at HU honored Native American Heritage Month by dishing out Three Sisters Soup around the Wright fire pit. Students were treated to this delicious, cozy meal while discussing the challenges and hardships Indigenous people face today and have faced in the past. One topic discussed is “missing white woman syndrome,” a name given to the phenomenon of missing Caucasian, middle-class women getting significantly more media attention than missing women of color. As of the writing of this article, 748 missing Indigenous women cases have been filed into the NamUs database, according to U.S. News. Yet very rarely do missing Indigenous women appear on the news; more likely, a story of a missing light-skinned girl will reach media outlets. It can be highly frustrating for Indigenous families to see these news stories and think that their missing loved ones aren’t as important.
MAC also told the story behind the traditional Native American soup being served. According to CBC kids, an Iroquois legend tells of three sisters, all of whom were very different but depended on each other to survive. Beans, the first sister, uses nitrogen from the air to replenish the sisters. Maize, the second sister, grows tall and provides the sisters a stalk for their vines to climb. Finally, the third sister, squash, covers the ground with large leaves, preventing weeds from growing and animals from eating the sisters. Many Native tribes use this companion planting technique to get the most out of their crops and provide their people with a sustainable food source.
Although November is officially recognized as Native American Heritage Month, any month of the year is an excellent time to acknowledge the impact Native people have had on our country. Learning about cultures and traditions different from our own can help us better understand and connect with our fellow human beings.