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November 2, 2021

How to Observe National Native American Heritage Month

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Welcome to Native American Heritage Month! Each November, we honor the many sacrifices, contributions, and achievements of American Indian and Alaska Native people. It is also an opportune time to celebrate the rich history, culture, and traditions of the Native people that have enriched our nation.

The annual recognition began over a century ago when the first American Indian Day was celebrated in May 1916 in New York. The event was the culmination of an effort by Red Fox James, a member of the Blackfeet Nation. James rode across the nation on horseback seeking approval from 24 state governments to have a day to honor American Indians. 

In 1990, more than seven decades later, then-President George H.W. Bush signed a joint congressional resolution designating the month of November “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations have been issued every year since 1994 to recognize what is now called “American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month.”

Did you know…

  • The current population of Native Americans in the United States is 6.79 million, about 2.09% of the entire population. 
  • That figure is projected to grow to 10.1 million (alone or in combination with other race groups) by 2060.
  • There are about 574 federally recognized Native American tribes in the United States.
  • There are 324 distinct federally recognized Native American land reservations.
  • 15 states have Native American populations of more than 100,000.
  • During World Wars I and II, the U.S. Army relied on Native American “code talkers” to protect radio, telephone, and telegraphic messages from enemy intelligence. In 2002, Congress passed the Code Talkers Recognition Act to recognize the important part that these Soldiers played in “saving countless lives and in hastening the end of World War I and World War II.”
  • In 2019, there were 142,972 single-race American Indian and Alaska Native veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.

How to Observe National Native American Heritage Month

Participating in National Native American Heritage Month is an excellent way to learn more about the history and contributions of American Indian and Alaska Native people. Here’s how you can observe the month:

  • Visit a museum that celebrates Native American artists and culture by showcasing artifacts, jewelry, customs, and culture. 
  • Support native-owned businesses within your community or online this holiday shopping season.
  • Explore the Library of Congress online archives for a list of audio and video content on Native American history and culture. 
  • Read the work of a Native American author—or listen to an audiobook

Prioritize diverse hiring in your contact center. According to a survey by NPR, one-third of Native Americans say they have experienced discrimination in the workplace when seeking jobs, seeking promotions, or earning equal pay. Learn more about common bias areas and steps you can take to reduce bias in the contact center.

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