Pyn • Holidays and Observances

November is American Indian Heritage Month!

November is American Indian Heritage Month. Here’s how you can commemorate this observance with the rest of the organization. 

⚠️ Pyn note to HR: Update this message to reflect any events being held or actions being taken by your organization. 

What is American Indian Heritage Month? 

American Indian Heritage Month, which is also referred to as Native American and Alaska Native Heritage Month, is used to celebrate the cultures, traditions, histories, and contributions of Native people. This month is also a time to raise awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced in the past and present.

American Indian Heritage Month programming

We’re excited to host events that celebrate the history, culture, and contributions of the American Indian communities! Here’s what’s happening over the next month:  

  • [Insert event]
  • [Insert event]
  • [Insert event]

Ways to commemorate American Indian Heritage Month 

Familiarize yourself with American Indian history

Institutions like The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian are setting out to provide a comprehensive, thoughtful, and accurate education of American Indian history with a national initiative called Native Knowledge 360 Degrees (NK360°). While this initiative is aimed primarily at educators, it’s a valuable resource for anyone who wants to be exposed to more Indigenous perspectives and voices.

Here are a few other resources you can look into: 

If you have any ideas to add to this list, we encourage you to share your recommendations with the rest of the company!

Understand the concepts of decolonization and indigenization

American Indians were subject to colonization, which happens when one group takes control of the land, resources, and culture of another group. This leads to significant economic, psychological, and physical harm to the community that’s being colonized.

That’s why, as non-Indigenous people, it’s important to engage in the process of decolonization. This essentially means examining your beliefs about American Indians and challenging both conscious and subconscious racism. Indigenization moves one step beyond this and seeks to create meaningful change. Here are a few ways you can engage in the process of decolonization and indigenization at work: 

  • Seek to understand and learn more about Indigenous perspectives, values, and experiences. 
  • Examine your hiring practices to see if you’re giving Indigenous people equal opportunities to join your organization and hold leadership positions.
  • Speak up against any acts of discrimination and unconscious bias against the American Indian community.
  • Be respectful of the beliefs and practices held by Indigenous employees, which may look different depending on their specific community.  

Immerse yourself in the culture

You don’t have to be American Indian to appreciate the rich history and culture of the community. However, it’s important to draw a clear line between engaging with American Indian culture and appropriation. Here are a few respectful ways you can immerse yourself in the culture throughout the year: 

  • Read the works of American Indian authors such as Louise Erdrich, Sherman Alexie, Joy Harjo, Vine Deloria Jr., or Tommy Orange.
  • Research local museums, institutions and organizations, which frequently host cultural events like dance performances, puppet shows, and discussions. 
  • Reach out to an American Indian cultural group for information about upcoming events or relevant resources to educate yourself.

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