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Native American Heritage Month
In 1990, President Bush declared November to be National American Indian Heritage Month, an important time to pay special attention to the contributions of Native Americans, Native Alaskans and American Indians to our societies, cultures, and history. We encourage GSAs and other student organizers to take the time during November to recognize the contributions of Native Americans, particularly to the LGBT and safe schools movements.
In 2012, President Obama proclaimed, “As the first people to live on the land we all cherish, American Indians and Alaska Natives have profoundly shaped our country's character and our cultural heritage. Today, Native Americans are leaders in every aspect of our society -- from the classroom, to the boardroom, to the battlefield. This month, we celebrate and honor the many ways American Indians and Alaska Natives have enriched our Nation, and we renew our commitment to respecting each tribe's identity while ensuring equal opportunity to pursue the American dream. In paying tribute to Native American achievements, we must also acknowledge the parts of our shared history that have been marred by violence and tragic mistreatment. For centuries, Native Americans faced cruelty, injustice, and broken promises. As we work together to forge a brighter future, we cannot shy away from the difficult aspects of our past. ”
Native Americans, which encompasses people who identify as American Indians, Alaskan Natives, such as Aleut, Yup’ik, or Inuit, Native Hawaiians (though they are often categorized as Pacific Islanders) and various tribal nations and ethnic groups found within the United States, are the indigenous people of this land. Many thousands of years, before European colonization, the nomadic ancestors discovered the modern Americas, by crossing a land bridge from Asia to Alaska and then migrating south. Prior to the 15th century, there were about 10 million people living in what would become the US. Currently, there are 566 federally recognized tribes, with over 5.2 million people who identified as partly or completely American Indian or Alaskan Native in the 2010 census. Throughout November we will be recognizing Native American heroes who have made significant contributions to the LGBT and safe schools movement.
Our Native American Heritage Month Heroes activity has information about nine notable native heroes. It's perfect for sharing. Print off copies and pass them out to members of your GSA, teachers and fellow classmates. To download, see resources on the right.
We want to know who your heroes are! If you know a person who is Native American or Alaskan who has contributed to the LGBT and safe schools movement, post about them on the Gay-Straight Alliances Facebook page. You can also tweet your heroes to @DayofSilence, @GLSEN, or using the #BetterAllies hash tag!