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Blog  ·  November 22 2023

Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Native American Heritage

In recent years, if you have been to a community event, especially in the nonprofit sector, then you have most likely experienced a land acknowledgement. A Land acknowledgment is a traditional custom that dates back centuries in many Native nations and communities. Today, land acknowledgments are used by Native peoples and non-Natives to recognize Indigenous peoples who are the original stewards of the lands on which we now live and work.

The land acknowledgement that was shared at the Rainbow Center’s Black & White Gayla event (and is also available on their website) is one of the best we’ve heard - it acknowledges the stolen land by settlers and recognizes Indigenous people not just of the past but of the present day as well.

As we approach Native American Heritage Day, it’s crucial to reflect on the significance of cultural education in our work. While verbalizing respect for the original inhabitants of a region is a positive step, making these acknowledgments meaningful requires a deeper commitment to understanding, research, and tangible action.

We welcome you to read this article by the CBC, that includes input from 5 First Nations people who share some ways to make land acknowledgments better and more meaningful and this article by the Native Governance on why land acknowledgments are important and tips for creating a land acknowledgement.

Ways to Celebrate Native American Heritage

Native American Heritage Day is not a day to pay lip service to the cultures of Indigenous peoples. It’s an opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue, foster understanding, and take concrete steps toward building stronger relationships with Native communities. Genuine commitment to respect and understanding begins with research into the nuanced histories, languages, and cultural practices that shape Native American and Indigenous identities.

1. Watch documentaries or read books

Dive into documentaries or literature that properly represent Native American history and culture, broadening your understanding beyond stereotypes.

2. Take a tour of a Native American museum

Explore the rich history and heritage by visiting a Native American museum or heritage center near you. Here are a few to check out in Pierce County:

3. Support Indigenous-owned businesses

Seek out and support Indigenous-owned businesses to contribute to economic empowerment within Native communities.

4. Read books by Native authors

Explore literature by Native authors, gaining insights into their perspectives and experiences.

5. Have real conversations about Thanksgiving

Owner and Operator of Abode, Dave Jones, sat down with local Native leaders Alicia Mathurin (The Community Market) and Pernelle Turnipseed (Two Bears Trading Post) to learn more about Thanksgiving from a Native perspective. Listen to our podcast episode on Thanksgiving, reparations, education, and more.

6. Donate to Native American organizations

Support organizations working towards the betterment of Native communities through donations.

7. Find events near you

Attend local events or gatherings that celebrate Native American heritage to foster community connections.