In 1990, November was officially designated as a heritage month to recognize America’s original inhabitants and celebrate their rich culture, but efforts to pay tribute to Indigenous people started long before.
Red Fox James, a member of the Blackfeet Nation, rode horseback across the U.S. seeking approval for a day to honor Native Americans and presented an endorsement from 24 states (half the country at the time) to the White House in 1915. The first official American Indian Day was declared in New York state in May 1916.
This year’s theme is “Celebrating Tribal Sovereignty and Identity.” There are 574 federally recognized nations, tribes, and pueblos within the U.S. comprising over 3.7 million people. Self-governance is at the heart of Native people’s ability to protect and enhance the health, safety, and welfare of their communities.
Here are Some Ways to Pay Tribute in DC This Month:
Attend an event celebrating Native literature and authors at your local D.C. Public Library.
Dine at Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe, located within the National Museum of the American Indian.
Learn about the Indigenous tribes that live in and around D.C.
On Nov. 4, chef Mariah Gladstone will discuss how Indigenous growers are using ancestral techniques to sustain communities.
On Nov. 5, attend a reception, round dance, and culture jam celebrating Native youth.