The following is a statement from the National Congress of American Indians in celebration of Native American Heritage Month.
November is Native American Heritage Month and dedicated to celebrating and honoring the contributions of American Indians and Alaska Native people, cultures, and governments. Today, leading local and national Native organizations and institutions announced this year’s shared theme for the month; “Celebrating Native American Voices.”
The organizations are calling for the people and the governments of the United States to join Native people in celebrating the current and historic role the Native American voice has played in the United States. Central to the group’s efforts is www.NativeAmericanHeritageMonth.org, an online resource for learning more about this year’s events and theme.
The theme for the 2012 Native American Heritage Month is described in the following way:
“November is Native American Heritage Month and it’s an important time to celebrate the current and historic role the Native American voice has played in the United States. It’s a time to celebrate the modern and traditional cultures, people, and societies of Native American peoples. It’s also an opportunity to highlight the important contributions of Native peoples and the shared histories between tribal nations and other communities.
Today, Native American cultures, people, and communities are strong and vibrant. According to the 2010 Census, there are over 5.2 million people in the United States identified as American Indian and Alaska Native, either alone or in combination with one or more other races, and there are 566 federally recognized tribal nations – that exist as sovereign nations within 33 states of the United States.
The strength of culture and community comes from a myriad of voices. Like many American citizens we too, are doctors, athletes, artists, leaders of nations, leaders of businesses, active duty soldiers and military veterans, elders, teachers, government employees, women and men, children and young adults.
We have a history of story and our voice remains. In the past many tried to quiet our voices, we could not be silenced. Today we celebrate; to remember and recognize our past, to bear witness to what our people face today; to give voice to great work and contributions we make; and to share our promise for the future generations.
The Native American Heritage Month education efforts are organized by the Washington D.C. Native Public Relations Roundtable. Participating Native organizations include the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute, National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC), Native American Contractors Association (NACA), National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH), National Indian Education Association (NIEA), National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA), and the National Indian Health Board (NIHB). The theme has also been adopted by a number of tribal and federal government offices including the Navajo Nation Washington Office, Indian Health Service (a department of the Department of Health and Human Services), the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The partners involved coordinate a number of educational events and public programs for Washington, D.C. area residents and government employees. For a list of events being held in the month of November in the Washington, D.C. region and for a national calendar of events, visit the website.