Native American Heritage Month

Nov 20, 2013 Issues: District Matters

Since the beginning of the 20th century, state governments have made efforts to recognize and honor the cultural and historical legacies of Native Americans, but it wasn’t until 1990 that President George H.W. Bush declared the month of November National American Indian Heritage Month.

This month provides an opportunity for native individuals to share their cultural traditions and a platform for them to discuss important issues facing their community. For nearly a century, Native Americans and non-Native Americans alike pushed for a national recognition for Native peoples. Most recently, President Obama signed into law legislation establishing the Friday immediately following Thanksgiving Day as “Native American Heritage Day.”

Native American Heritage Month promotes cross-cultural dialogue and understanding between Natives and non-Natives through a variety of programs, ceremonies and activities.

One Walnut Creek resident, photographer Sue Reynolds, has displayed her commitment to heightening this cross-cultural understanding through her renowned art work. Reynolds’ latest book “Still Here: Not Living in Tipis,” is a collaborative project featuring her photographs paired with words from Salish Native American poet Victor Charlo.

The book and its accompanying exhibit serve to illustrate the resiliency of Native cultures, combatting cultural stereotypes by fostering new, more accurate perceptions of Native peoples. Reynolds’ ability to employ her artwork as a tool to advance relations between all people is a great example of the continuing efforts being made to improve these cross-cultural relations and to strengthen native communities across the country.