This November, the United States celebrates Native American Heritage Month, also known as American Indian or Alaska Native Heritage Month. This recognition month was established in 1990 by president George H.W. Bush. This holiday is a time to honor and experience the culture of Native Americans.
November allows all people around the country to learn the history and the heritage of the founders of this land. According to the Daily Herald, there are around three million American Indians and 562 Native American Tribes currently within the United States. By celebrating this month, America can honor and take time to educate themselves on this group of peoples.
The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) stated that it is an “opportune time to educate the general public about tribes.” Native Americans have historically faced struggles and still face challenges today. They have worked to overcome these challenges throughout history and are still working today to eliminate these struggles.
Some of these issues have included unemployment rates, poverty, violence, discrimination and many others. According to Powwows.com, “Ever since the recovery from the Great Depression the Native American society has been left out of economic prosperity.
“The month is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people,” the NCIA said.
This month usually contains many activities along with on-campus events. However, the pandemic has influenced some of this year’s activities. Due to safety concerns activities to celebrate this month have been adjusted or canceled.
North Dakota State University has also made some additions to the campus to honor Native American Heritage. On Oct. 12, the community members of Fargo and NDSU gathered to recognize and celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Members gathered together at the Grandmother Earth’s Gift of Life Garden.
Students of NDSU can also get involved in the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, or AISES, on campus. This is a group that’s goal is to have a representation of American Indians in STEM programs. AISES aims to give students opportunities to succeed and reach their full potential through their education.
According to AISES, their mission is “for the next seven generations of Native people to be successful, respected, influential and contributing members of our vast and ever-changing global community.”
Isnala Roan Eagle, president of NDSU AISES, said “We would love to see more recruitment into the organization. It’s a fun, inclusive organization that has gotten our AISES students amazing opportunities to travel and network.”
Native American Student Association, or NASA, is another on-campus student organization. This group is open to all students who want to learn more about Native American cultures and traditions. This group provides opportunities to get involved in the community, as well as for scholarships and tutoring. NASA was “created for Native students to have the opportunity to build a community and support group on campus.”
Dr. Robert Pieri, advisor for AISES said, “These students have a unique background and I think many other students could benefit from hearing about that perspective.”