Annually, November marks the nation’s designated month to recognize and celebrate the American Indian population in our country. The celebration dates back to the 20th century, as early as 1915. In 1990 George W. Bush formally identified November as National Native American Heritage Month. The former president recognized the importance of educating, collaborating, and sharing about this highly prevalent culture, thus signing a resolution designating the month as such. Now, nearly 20 years later, November is brimming with opportunities to dive into facets of Native American culture and celebrate their heritage.
The state of Arizona, specifically, has made considerable efforts year after year to lead and involve members of the community in events honoring this incredible culture. The celebratory activities give Arizonans the opportunity to immerse in a culture that is highly active and prominent in our state. Indian fry bread, dancing, beadwork, storytelling, seminars and discussions are all but a few of the activities that fill this month of recognition. American Indians have the opportunity to carry on their traditions and celebrations while also educating those that are not as familiar.
In the spirit of education and celebration of the American Indian community, the Maricopa Community Colleges have organized a number of opportunities throughout the month at each of their campuses. Ana Cuddington, the director of the American Indian Program at Scottsdale Community College spoke to the importance of the events and the motivation behind the community colleges’ involvement: “The different events through MCCCD allow people to experience American Indian Culture. This is a way in everyday life that students honor their heritage and keep their history and culture alive.” Cuddington continued stating that it is important to recognize “Native Americans in both their historical impact and their modern impact.” You can visit MCCCD’s online calendar here detailing the remaining events offered this month.
Joining MCCCD in their effort this month are all three of the state universities: Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona. Within each educational institute, there is a plethora of activities planned where students have the opportunity to learn about and interact with the Native American culture. Northern Arizona University, specifically, has a mission to become the nation’s leading university to serve Native American Students. The community of Northern Arizona will also be hosting multiple programs at the Museum of Northern Arizona to help engage the community.
There are a number of groups choosing to participate in honoring the American Indian community. Each weekend in November, Montezuma’s Castle will be hosting events commemorating the work of Native Americans in our country from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Phoenix Public Library has selected Native American culture as their literature theme for the month to encourage readers to learn more. All throughout the state, individuals have put together activities to celebrate and can be found by searching “Native American Heritage Month events”.