2020 Native American Heritage Month

Native American Heritage Month

Staff can find more resources here. These resources are listed as additional tools to create more awareness and education.

What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the First Nations have made to the establishment and growth of the United States, has resulted in the month of November being designated for that purpose.

New York: May 1916 –Declared the first “American Indian Day” in a state, to be the 2nd Saturday in May.

Several states celebrate the 4th Friday in September. 

Wisconsin like many other states proclaimed October 12th as Indigenous Peoples Day in place of Columbus Day, but it continues to be a day we observe without any recognition as a national legal holiday.

President George H. W. Bush: November 1990 - designated as "National American Indian Heritage Month." Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including "Native American Heritage Month" and "National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month") have been issued each year since 1994 by sitting U.S. presidents.

This month is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of indigenous people. Native American Heritage Month is also an opportune time to educate 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.

Stay tuned as we hold a “Did You Know” series during the month to educate, raise awareness, an share about the history of the American Indians and Alaskan Natives.

Did you know?
A federally recognized tribe is an American Indian or Alaska Native tribal entity that is recognized as having a government-to-government relationship with the United States, with the responsibilities, powers, limitations, and obligations attached to that designation, and is eligible for funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Furthermore, federally recognized tribes are recognized as possessing certain inherent rights of self-government (i.e., tribal sovereignty) and are entitled to receive certain federal benefits, services, and protections because of their special relationship with the United States.  At present, there are 574 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and villages.

The Haudenosaunee People (“People of the Longhouse”) who made up the Iroquois Confederacy were the Oneida (Onᐱyoteʔa∙ká - “People of the Standing Stone”), (Mohawk (Kanien’kehá:ka - “People of the Flint”), Onondaga (Onoñda’gega’ - “People of the Hills”), Cayuga (Gayogo̱hó:nǫ’ - “People of the Great Swamp”), and Seneca (Onödowa’ga:’ - “People of the Great Hill”).  After the Tuscarora (Skarù∙ręʔ - “People of the Shirt”) joined in 1722, the confederacy became known to the English as the Six Nations. 

The Clan Mothers, Chiefs, and Faithkeepers run the Iroquois confederacy. Each person has a specific responsibility for the people. The Iroquois confederacy had a big influence on how our country is run today. 

Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were amazed at how disciplined and organized the Haudenosaunee People’s government was. They observed very closely then formed the government and created what today is known as the United States Constitution.

Between 1778, when the first treaty was made with the Delawares, to 1871, when Congress ended the treaty-making period, the United States Senate ratified 370 treaties. At least 45 others were negotiated with tribes but were never ratified by the Senate.

Did you know?Lands
Wisconsin is home to 11 federally recognized tribes, out of 574 federally recognized American Indian nations that have a government-to-government relationship with the U.S. federal government. These tribes in Wisconsin are the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Ho-Chunk Nation, Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, Oneida Nation, Forest County Potawatomi, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, St. Croix Chippewa, Sokaogon Chippewa (Mole Lake Band of Lake Superior Chippewa) and Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians.

Wisconsin is home to one tribal nation without federal recognition: the Brothertown Indian Nation. The Brothertown community traces its cultural roots to six parent tribes in New England and has a shared history of migration from the east with members of the Oneida and Stockbridge nations.

Act 31 was a Wisconsin state budget bill passed in 1989. It included five statutes outlining how the state's public schools must provide instruction about the culture, history and sovereignty of Wisconsin's federally recognized American Indian tribes and bands.