November is Native American Heritage Month. It is also referred to as American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. A statement from the National Congress of American Indians provides a cultural context for the month: “The month is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. Heritage Month is also an opportune time to educate students and the general public about tribes, to raise a general awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges.”
Montana Swimming is proud of the accomplishments, cultures, and traditions of all our Native American athletes, coaches, and volunteers.
Although the first "American Indian Day" was celebrated in May 1916 in New York, a month-long recognition of Native Americans didn’t happen until 1990 when President George H.W. Bush signed a joint congressional resolution designating November as National American Indian Heritage Month. Since then, virtually every U.S. president has signed a similar proclamation to annually recognize the ancestry, traditions and contributions of the indigenous people of this country.
According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, there are currently 574 federally recognized tribes within the United States — each with its own culture, language and traditions. Today approximately 6.8 million Americans identify as Native American — approximately 2% of the U.S. population.
USA Swimming and Montana Swimming are proud to take part in honoring the tremendous contributions of Native Americans. Currently, Native Americans/Alaskan Natives make up less than 1% of our membership. A 2017 research study by the USA Swimming Foundation and the University of Memphis however reported 68% of Native Americans/Alaskan Natives in the United States have little to no swimming ability. These numbers represent not only challenges, but also opportunities to increase access to water and learn to swim programs within this community.
Ways to Engage During Native American Heritage Month
- Attend a forum, webinar or event sponsored by https://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov/.
- Seek out trustworthy sources to educate yourself, family and friends about not only the history of, but the current issues that affect Native American communities. Some good places to start are the Center for Native American Youth, National Congress of American Indians and the National Museum of the American Indian.
- Call out negative narratives, myths or stereotypes of Native peoples.
- Celebrate and learn from Native storytellers: Check out a book written by a Native American author! Ask for recommendations at your local library. Make it a mini book club and discuss your pick with your team, family or club!
- Representation matters: Seek out shows or films that can educate you about authentic and contemporary Native American culture and experience. Look for ones featuring Native actors, writers and directors.
- Head to a museum or cultural exhibit in your area to learn more about Native American history and cultures. Don't have a museum close by? Check out an online exhibit and explore it with your club!
- Uplift and support Native American artists and businesses by shopping for authentic Native goods at places like http://www.beyondbuckskin.com/p/buy-native.html which has a list of other businesses you could support this month and year-round!
Information about Montana's Indian Tribes here
Montana Indians Their History and Location here
Tribal Relations Handbook: A Guide for Montana State Employees in Preserving the State-Tribal Relationship (2014) PDF
A Guide to Build Cultural Awareness American Indian and Alaska Native PDF
Tribal Colleges in Montana
Contacts for the Montana Tribal Headquarters:
Blackfeet Nation: (406) 338-7521
Chippewa Cree Tribe: (406) 395-5705
Crow Nation: (406) 638-3708
Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes: (406) 675-2700
Fort Belknap Assiniboine & Gros Ventre Tribes: (406) 353-2205
Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes: (406) 768-2300
Little Shell Chippewa Tribe: (406) 315-2400
Northern Cheyenne Tribe:(406) 477-6284