November we celebrate Native American Heritage Month! At Bridges, we honor and acknowledge that our catchment area and our offices are on the land of the following Indigenous communities: Abenaki/Abénaquis, Pennacook and the Wabanaki Confederation. We understand and acknowledge the hundreds of years of oppression, discrimination, and violence our Native and Indigenous communities have faced and continue to face.
According to Loveisrespect.org, studies suggest that survivors [of abuse] make up more than 84 percent of the entire United States Native population. Although Native communities have dealt with such hardship, these communities have contributed a lot to our culture: from fighting for their land, justice and representation to sharing their traditions of art, clothing and spirituality.
The first proponents of this heritage month were three Native Americans back in 1915: Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian; Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe; and Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian. Red Fox James actually rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Native Americans. On December 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House. There is no record, however, of such a national day being proclaimed.
The first American Indian Day in a state was declared on the second Saturday in May 1916 by the governor of New York. Presently, several states have designated Columbus Day as Native American Day, but it continues to be a day we observe without any recognition as a national legal holiday.
In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994.
This month, let’s honor and celebrate our local and national Native American communities, past and present. For more information about Native American Heritage Month, Native American art, how to be involved and how to assist the community, please view the links below: