November is Native American Heritage Month
As a part of The Humanist Project, Grant Therapy believes it is important to learn about the cultures and traditions in our community. Being exposed to diverse cultures can help you appreciate more in life, expanding views on music, food, and art among many other things. Learning about other cultures can help diffuse misunderstanding people may have of others and reduce conflict/bullying. This month we can celebrate the heritage of the first people to inhabit our nation.
Native people prefer to be called by their specific tribal name. In the United States, Native American has been widely used but is falling out of favor with some groups, and the terms American Indian or indigenous American are preferred by many Native people.
There are 574 federally recognized Nations in the United States. These nations can all have different languages and traditions. The history of native Americans dates back to tens of thousands of years ago.
No matter where you live in the United States there are indigenous people that have lived there before. Here is an interactive map you can use with your children to find what tribe has lived in that area. https://native-land.ca/
It is important to recognize the turbulent history of the people beginning with colonization and continuing to fight for rights to this day. Educating children about the history of native American people helps children develop understanding and empathy.
Traditions we can explore to learn more and celebrate Native American Heritage Month:
Storytelling– History was documented by story telling with the tribal elders telling the stories to younger generations. Some stories are rooted in reality while others have a more spiritual setting. Exploring these stories can develop curiosity, and understanding.
The significance of hair in the Native American culture. Many nations believe that a person’s hair is a part of their spirit. Hair should not be touched by others without asking. Native Americans see the practice of taking care of their hair as practice of self respect promoting self esteem and pride. Some cultures repeat positive affirmations while brushing or braiding their hair and consider the time while doing their children’s hair a time for nurturing and connection.
No matter how you choose to celebrate today, it is also important for children to see and learn about how native Americans are living today. There are still many preconceived notions and stereotypes still perpetuated today about indigenous people.