What you can do to understand and celebrate our Native American heritage

Article published on November 18, 2022

November is an opportunity to grow our understanding of Native culture, traditions, and how historical traumas like colonization and genocide have impacted Native peoples throughout history—and still do today.

Though Native Americans make up about 2.5% of the total U.S. population, their history and contributions are of critical importance to the nation’s history. Unfortunately, much of it has been forgotten or overlooked. 

Here are some easy and interesting activities you might explore:

Learn what native land you’re on

Long before you lived on it, the land you’re on was occupied, managed, and maintained by Indigenous people and tribes. Land is sacred and important to all of us — whether we know it or not — and it’s important to learn about the history of the land you’re on. Not only does it honor the people it was taken from, it helps us honor and steward the land better.

And, while you’re at it, use this cool interactive map to learn more about where you live and what tribes were indigenous to the area.

Enjoy Indigenous art

The Denver Art Museum was one of the first art museums in the U.S. to start collecting Indigenous art, and as a result, their collection is both extensive and enlightening. The artists each have a beautiful, unique way of helping us all understand histories and lived experiences — both heartbreaking and uplifting — of Native Americans.

Google Arts & Culture created a unique, digital experience to guide you through some of the Denver Art Museum’s more than 18,000 pieces by artists from more than 250 Indigenous nations.

Watch a documentary

Native American history is American history. A great way to make sure you both grow in knowledge and are well-informed in November is by watching a documentary (or a few) this month.

We recommend watching We Shall Remain, a five-part PBS American Experience series about Native Americans’ longtime struggle for land, the Wampanoags and the first Thanksgiving, and a brutal war started by the colonists. Also, Reel Injun: On the Trail of the Hollywood Indian, another PBS documentary which explores the history and stereotypes of Native Americans in film. 

And…a bonus recommendation: Learn more about Local 1000’s Native American Committee

The SEIU Local 1000 Native American Human Rights Committee recognizes that Indigenous People continue to be marginalized. We are all Born Indigenous, regardless of our genealogy, and we commemorate our ancestors through our countenance, speech, and values.  We strive to increase awareness of issues affecting our Indigenous union siblings in the workplace and the community through outreach and education, and to increase union membership, engender respect and justice, and welcome more Indigenous Americans into state service.

Click here to visit our Native American Committee’s web page.