We’re observing Native American Heritage Month by acknowledging the significance of tribal lands to American Indians and Alaska Natives—and the importance of protecting indigenous cultures to us all.

 
 

We’re observing Native American Heritage Month by acknowledging the significance of tribal lands to American Indians and Alaska Natives—and the importance of protecting indigenous cultures to us all.

I come to you from some of the land taken from Tongva people, who are now known as the Gabrieleño/Tongva Band of Mission Indians. Our office in El Segundo is on Tongva land as well, near the former village of Ongoovanga.1

Population estimates show that the land we’re on was not once as empty as some iconic images of the American landscape represent. Some research suggests that there may have been some 54 million U.S. Native Americans in 14922—about 16 percent the size entire U.S. population today. Currently, U.S. Native Americans number around 6.79 million, or about 2 percent of our country’s total population.3 In the intervening years, rich cultures have disappeared and a struggle for survival unfolded, with homelands playing a central role.

Many of our country’s treasured places, such as our National Parks, are homelands from which Native Americans were removed. With a purpose far beyond merely providing a space to call home, Native American homelands are places of tribal origination, provide connection to ancestors and cultural identity, and carry deep spiritual significance. The decades-long struggles for land restitution go far beyond concerns over sovereignty—they are issues of survival.

We have a shared responsibility to help protect Native Americans’ 500-plus tribes, culture, homelands, and heritage in the interest of our collective well-being.4 Take these steps to learn about Native American heritage and get involved.

 
Develop and share a land acknowledgement that can serve as a call to action and raise awareness of the Native lands we occupy. Start with guidance from the Native Governance Center, and discover how land acknowledgements can function as a living celebration of indigenous communities.
 
Incorporate Native American foods in everyday celebrations and use this opportunity to discuss our country’s rich cultures and long-standing traditions. Check out “New Native Kitchen,” a new modern Indigenous cookbook from a former chef at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.
 
Explore Native American arts and culture. Native Arts & Cultures Foundation brings valuable perspective to the contributions of Native peoples to our communities and the world. Visit the National Museum of the American Indian online and check out current digital art exhibitions.

At Cetera, we are committed to improving lives and caring for our community. We continue to raise awareness and respect all of cultures in the interest of our collective well-being. Be a part of our honoring Native American Heritage Month by checking out one of the resources below.

Suggested Watching

 

Explore the Native American experience with documentaries to expand your perspective.

Sacheen: Breaking the Silence

This short documentary examines the reverberations after Sacheen Littlefeather refused the 1973 Academy Award for best actor on behalf of Marlon Brando.

Without a Whisper

This documentary shares the story of how Haudenosaunee women in New York state championed political suffrage years before their non-Native counterparts.

The Last Forest

This documentary depicts the Indigenous Yanomani tribe’s way of life – and their struggle to preserve it.

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