There is a wealth of heritage to celebrate, as there are 800 unique tribes spread out from Alaska to Florida, from the Pacific to the Atlantic Coasts in the United States. Here are two ideas to commemorate the occasion:

Party! (and by "Party" I mean "Read a Book")

There are many fantastic books that respectfully tell Native stories…and quite a few that do not.  How can you tell the difference?  As a reader, I want to enjoy a good book without learning incorrect information or perpetuating harmful stereotypes. Fortunately, there are many resources to help, such as this guide on Oyate, and this blog on American Indians in Children’s literature.  There’s also this recommended reading list. 

Here a few of my personal favorites:

Learn the Alphabet with Northwest Coast Art illustrated by First Nations artists

My Heart Fills With Happiness by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Julie Flett 

If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth

Know Your Neighbors:

Two of those tribes, federally recognized as sovereign nations, are located right here in Kitsap County.  Each has their own website with information on their people, land, culture and community: the Suquamish, and  the Port Gamble S'Klallam.

One More Thing to Consider:
Another way to appreciate and honor Indigenous Peoples is to be mindful of how holidays are observed. Holidays, and their history and traditions, do not have the same meaning for all cultures. For instance, Seattle recently changed Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s day for this very reason, a decision that praised by some but criticized by others.

Thanksgiving is another holiday that can be a wonderful celebration of gratitude with loved ones, and delicious food. However, it can also be rife with historical inaccuracies and myths that are harmful in their misrepresentation of the First Peoples. Judy Dow, of the Abenaki Nation, addresses some of these myths in "Deconstructing the Myths of "The First Thanksgiving."

More Resources:

Visit the official Native American Heritage Month site, http://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov/. It includes an online exhibit of the treaties between the United States and the American Indian Tribes, a Pinterest board of historical images created by the Library of Congress, and stories from The Veteran’s History Project.

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