Williamson County Public Library Blog

Celebrate Native American Heritage Month!

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By Jessica Dunkel, Reference Department

History

Native American Heritage Month (also known as “National American Indian Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) hasn’t been around for very long.  Although Native Americans have resided on the continent for approximately 12,000 years, it wasn’t until November 1990 that President George H. W. Bush declared November to be “National American Indian Heritage Month”.

Honoring the month

Many of us are not exposed to Native American culture and do not know much about Native people, their way of life, and the issues they face.  In order to honor this month, I’ve compiled some facts and figures, as well as answers to questions some of us may have about Native Americans and their culture.  This list is far from complete, and I encourage you to discover what you’ve always wanted to learn about Native people and their history.

Below you will also find ways to celebrate Native American Heritage Month for yourself, plus Fiction and Non-Fiction books from Native American authors – and a few movies, too.  All titles are available at our library, so get to celebrating!

Census information as of 2014

Population:  American Indians and Alaska Natives made up 2% of the US population (5.4 million people), including those that are more than one race.

Race:  Of the 5.4 million, only 48% are fully American Indian or Alaska Natives.  The other 52% are American Indian or Alaska Natives in combination with at least one other race.

Reservations and Tribes:  As of 2015 there were 326 federally recognized American Indian reservations and 566 federally recognized American Indian tribes.

Income:  The median income for single-race Native American and Alaska Native households was $37,227 (compared to $53,657 for the United States as a whole).

Poverty:  Single-race Native Americans and Alaska Natives had a poverty rate of 28.3%, the highest rate of any race group in America.

Higher Education:  13.9% of single-race Native Americans and Alaska Natives, ages 25 and over, had a bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree.

Language:  26.8% of single-race Native Americans and Alaska Natives ages 5 and older spoke a language other than English at home.

2010 American Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States Map from the U.S. Census Bureau

More interesting facts here

FAQ about Native Americans

Are all Native Americans considered US citizens?

Do all Native Americans live on reservations?

Do any Native Americans still live on their original tribal land?

Do tribes make their own laws, or live under the laws of the US?

What is life like on a reservation?

Can anyone visit a reservation?

Do Native Americans still speak their tribe’s language?

What is the history behind Native American names?

What was the Native American population before 1492?

Do Native Americans celebrate Thanksgiving?

What are some current issues facing Native Americans today?

How can I find out if I have Native American ancestors?

How can I participate in Native American Heritage Month?

Other Resources for Native American History Month

It is impossible to accurately represent an entire people in a single blog while retaining the real essence, beauty, and complexity of their culture.  I urge everyone who is interested in any aspect of Native American life to read more, learn more, and attempt to truly understand the lives and history of America’s Native people.

Check out the links above as well as the blog references section for a wealth of information.


Sources:

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