Native American Heritage Month


Photo by Creative Commons

Arrow Schilling, Reporter

Since 1990, November has been officially known as “Native American Heritage Month.” It’s important that people appreciate and celebrate it just as many celebrate Thanksgiving. Taking a deeper look into Native American culture, there are tribes all across the U.S., including several tribes close to home. Wisconsin is home to eleven federally recognized tribes, some of which include the Ho-Chunk Nation, Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin, Lac Courte Oreilles, Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and many more. Each tribe has its own unique culture and traditions that they follow. Mason Kittleson, the Human Geography teacher at Lodi High School, stated, “The way they celebrate it is different depending on the tribe.”

There are many ways to celebrate this month; a certain movement that’s been recommended is Rock Your Mocs, with “Mocs” referring to moccasins, a piece of Indigenous footwear. Rock Your Mocs is a week-long event where Indigenous people can celebrate their culture by sharing images online of them wearing moccasins during everyday activities and chores. It begins on November 13 and ends on November 21. #ROCKYOURMOCS can be seen across all, if not most, social media platforms. It’s a way for Natives to show pride in their heritage and make connections.

While it’s amazing that Native Americans are celebrating their heritage, a slight issue that’s been noticed is representation and education. While Native American Heritage Month is of course important, it doesn’t get much attention in the media. Many Natives have expressed discomfort with the issue. Sheila Corbine, a Native American and founding partner at a Native-owned law firm, explained, “Generally, Natives are presented as people who lived in the past and don’t currently exist.” She says this, pointing out poor representation for Indigenous people. She stated how she works with Native people every day and rightfully works for proper representation.

Education is a key part of this month; knowing how to properly celebrate can be complicated for some people. Although acknowledging whose land it was previously is sufficient and respectful, it’s important to see how others’ knowledge of Native Americans can affect the indigenous community as a whole. Bringing attention to this month and Native Americans is important and shows Natives haven’t been discarded and forgotten.