The story of Native American Heritage Month started “at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S.” You can read more about the decades-long struggle to honor Native Americans on the Native American Heritage Month website. As stated by the National Park Service,
“History, heritage, or culture of Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians are part of every national park and communities across the country today. Every November during Native American Heritage Month and throughout the year, the National Park Service and our partners share history and the continuing culture of America’s indigenous peoples”
Did you know that Marin County is named after "Chief Marin" of the Huimen group of the Coast Miwok? The Huimen group "occupied what is presently Mill Valley, Tiburon, Belvedere and Sausalito". Born in 1781 he was initially named Huicmuse, and was baptized as "Marino" in 1801. To learn more of Huicmuse's story and the impact of the Coast Miwok on the place we now know as Marin, read the Marin Magazine article "The Story Behind Marin County’s Namesake, 'Chief Marin.'" and then take a deeper dive with Betty Goerke's book:
The Huimen group of the Coast Miwok, who have lived along the shores of Marin County for more than 10,000 years, carefully managed the land they inhabit. You can read more about their stewardship on the National Park Service's page Coast Miwok at Muir Woods.
During 2020 Victoria Canby, Interim Executive Director of the Museum of the American Indian in Novato, started an oral history project interviewing local indigenous elders. Read an article about her project on the Marin IJ website or through the library's archive access, opens a new window.
Local Organizations and Relevant Resources
Despite attempted genocide, rich and vibrant Native communities endure throughout the Bay Area and beyond.
- Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria is "a federation of Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo groups," many members of whom still live in their ancestral territories
- Learn more about the Coast Miwok of today through the Coast Miwok Project and the Coast Miwok Tribal Project
- The Marin American Indian Alliance "provides education, information resources, and a support network system for our Native American Indian Community." If you have Native American heritage, contact them to attend gatherings and meet people from your nation.
- The Culture Conservancy, a Native-led nonprofit organization, was founded in 1985 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Their Native Foodways Project is based out of the Indian Valley Organic Farm & Garden at the College of Marin campus in Novato.
- Want to find out which Native nations have a particular area? Native Land has an interactive map of territories, languages, and treaties that allows you to explore all over the U.S.
- Sogorea Te’ Land Trust is based out of the East Bay, and is "an urban Indigenous women-led land trust that facilitates the return of Indigenous land to Indigenous people"
- Read M. Carlos Baca’s “Decolonizing Thanksgiving and Reviving Indigenous Relationships to Food“ in preparation for Thanksgiving at the end of the month
Events and Learning Opportunities
Many institutions across the U.S. have presentations and events planned during the month of November which will be accessible online, regardless of your geographic location! Topics range from food demonstrations to history, craft instruction, and more. You're sure to find something to engage with.
The Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health is hosting a variety of events on Zoom:
- Cooking With Indigenous Food presented by Justin Pioche, of Pioche Food Group
- Indigenae Podcast Screening and Discussion with Dr. Sophie Neuner, Sarah Stern, Olivia Trujillo
- Pendant Beading Workshop with Carleigh Lameman
- Indigenous Lessons for the World: Traditional perspectives on the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change presented by Oren Lyons and Thomas Banyacya Jr.
The Native American Heritage Month website has a wealth of readings, presentations, dances, and concerts. You can start with the very first one, a reading by U.S. poet laureate Joy Harjo of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Joy Harjo is only of only two poets to have been appointed to a third term as Poet Laureate.
National Museum of the American Indian has a variety of events that can be accessed virtually, including their Native Cinema Showcase, running November 12-18:
"The National Museum of the American Indian’s Native Cinema Showcase is an annual celebration of the best in Native film. This year's showcase focuses on Native people boldly asserting themselves through language, healing, building community, and a continued relationship with the land. Activism lies at the heart of all these stories. The showcase provides a unique forum for engagement with Native filmmakers from Indigenous communities throughout the Western Hemisphere and Arctic."
In Our Collection
Finally, as always, you can always turn to our collection and immerse yourself in Native literature, poetry, essays, and everything from cookbooks to histories. All of the following lists center Native voices, rather than the writing of settlers about Native Americans.