“Without your language or your land, you are not who you say you are.”
-Loretta Afraid of Bear, Oglala Lakota
For almost a century Native Americans have taken a complete month to celebrate and honor the sacrifices, contributions and legacy of the first inhabitants, explorers and settlers. The American Indian and Alaska Native community is comprised of people from North, South and Central America with myriad tribes and cultures. In the U.S., Native Americans are two percent of the U.S population, making them an extreme minority. This is why celebrating their beautiful culture is necessary. The month of November celebrates and acknowledges the richly diverse culture, contributions, stories and traditions that Native Americans brought to U.S. history.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services of Minority Health, there are 573 federal recognized Native American tribes which receive health and educational rights. However, many other tribes that aren’t recognized, meaning they don’t receive these benefits. Since many Indian reservations lack quality health care, Native Americans are twice as likely to suffer from diabetes and Alaska Natives have an infant mortality rate of 60 percent.
Understanding the challenges Native Americans have overcome currently and throughout history is a cultural and social imperative today. To do so, many U.S. states host events with music and theatrical performances, traditional dances and panel discussions to educate the audience about the history, values and principles of various tribes.
Here is a glimpse into two well known reservations that are part of Running Strong for American Indian Youth Infancy organization:
Located in south-western South Dakota, this reservation is the home of the Oglala Lakota tribe which has a population of approximately 40,000 individuals. The reservation was established through the Treaty of 1868.
This reservation is located in north-central South Dakota and it is home to the following tribes:
- Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
- Bands of Mnicoujoum
- Siha Sapa
According to the U.S. census, more than 45% of the population in the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation is under 18 years of age.
Enjoy a visual glimpse into the beauty in Native American culture with this a video of how Native American Month Heritage was celebrated a year ago.
Sharon Schweitzer and Sophie Echeverry co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre and the Intercultural Communication Institute, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, and Fortune. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards and the 2017 New York City Big Book Award for Multicultural Nonfiction.
Sophie Echeverry is the corporate marketing manager and event coordinator at Access to Culture. Born and raised in Colombia, she’s a 2018 graduate with a B.B.A. in International Business and Marketing from Hult International Business School in San Francisco, CA. Connect with her on LinkedIn.