Celebrate National Native American Heritage Month All Year Long with Minnesota’s Native Nations
November is National Native American Heritage Month (which we feel should be celebrated every month, for the record).
At the Minnesota Humanities Center (MHC), our relationships with, and knowledges from, the indigenous peoples of this land we now call Minnesota are of paramount importance, are a key tenant of our Absent Narratives Approach,™ and are integrated into nearly all the work we do.
Native Nations of Minnesota and MHC’s relationship with them exemplify our deep and meaningful relationship to place. We learn from Dakota and Ojibwe people through stories of this land and its first peoples.
Below are a few comments about National Native American Heritage Month from some of our native scholars and partners. For example, they note that May is the month indigenous Minnesotans prefer to celebrate their native heritage as it distances the recognition from the controversial “first thanksgiving story.”
“Minnesota does not particularly engage in the November month. We have chosen May as Indian month in order to get as far away from Thanksgiving as possible.”
—Ramona Kitto Stately is an enrolled member of the Santee Sioux Nation. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dakota Art and Culture, and a Master of Arts in Education with a focus on teacher leadership. She has coordinated and directed Indian Education for the Osseo Area School District since 2005.
“Locally we celebrate Indian month in May, so there are LOTS AND LOTS of events then. In the meantime, visit the Bdote Memory Map!”
—Mona Smith is owner of Allies, LLC, a media artist, and director of Allies: media/art. A Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota, she guides educators in understanding Minnesota as a Dakota place.
Regardless, there are opportunities to engage with and learn from Native Americans in Minnesota all year round.
“Most Americans got a sugar-coated version of Columbus or the first Thanksgiving and little else to more deeply understand the native experience—historical or contemporary experience. But when we know enough to know there are things we don’t know, it’s time to learn. And there are many opportunities to do so now, during Native American Heritage Month, or at any time. Read one of the many great books published by the Minnesota Historical Society, check out an exhibit, or come to a public event.”
—Anton Treuer is author of “Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask” and 13 other books on native history, language, and culture.
Additionally, MHC has several opportunities for Minnesotans looking to engage more deeply with Dakota and Ojibwe nations. Our Learning from Place: Bdote trip takes participants to sites around the metro of cultural, religious, and historical significance to Dakota people – led by Dakota people. MHC is also a lead partner for “Why Treaties Matter: Self-Government in the Dakota and Ojibwe Nations,” a traveling exhibit made in partnership with the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. The exhibit is now on permanent display at the Minnesota State Capitol and is also touring the state – currently in Minneapolis and Fergus Falls.