The month of November is dedicated to celebrating the culture of Native Americans. This might be the perfect time to get accustomed with some Native American traditions and history, especially with the Thanksgiving season upon us. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on lessons and other cultural items to really learn and celebrate such an important heritage in our country. In fact, there are many free or cheap ways to help you have a lot of fun learning about the people who populated the Americas before they were even on the map. So, have a little fun this month when you learn about all of the many tribes and traditions that are part of such a remarkable history.
1. Learn About Tribes
One exceptional way to celebrate this month is to actually learn about the tribes of Native Americans that existed before Europeans invaded. If you’ve never seen a map of the tribes before, then you will probably be pretty surprised by how many tribes there actually were. It is also a big of a shock to see how much land they inhabited throughout the year. If you have older children, then you might want to have them memorize a few of the tribes’ locations on the map and talk about the foods and resources that they may have collected based on their area. You might also hone in on a tribe and study one each November. If you have tribes close to you, then it might be cool to learn about them. You may even be able to visit a reservation if they still have one established. Of course, it might also be meaningful to learn about tribes that no longer exist in order to keep the memory alive.
2. Read Novels from Native American Authors
In our world, novels from other cultures often get the back burner when it comes to best seller lists or even what we read in schools. So, you might want to go out of your way to find a list of Native American novels you can check out. This doesn’t mean you have to choose a novel about Native American life. Rather, there are so many fiction novels on the table that you’d be surprised by what you may find. There are many Native American authors that love to bring in aspects of their culture into their writing, which can add even more magic to the story they are telling. Of course, you can also pick up non-fictions books if you want to read more about certain tribes or history.
3. Listen to Native American Music
There is actually a lot you can learn from a culture based on its music. The cool thing is that each tribe has its own different music to enjoy. Today, we have many ways of enjoying Native American music. One of the easiest and cheapest ways to do this is to listen to streaming music online. Many different streaming services offer a wide variety of Native American music, especially during this special month and the holiday season. You should be able to check out traditional songs, as well as modern Native American music too. You might be surprised as to how this unique form of music has developed over the centuries as well as how beautiful the traditional songs truly are. So, explore around, because you may find something that really resonates with you.
4. Enjoy Lacrosse
Believe it or not, but lacrosse is actually a game that began with the Native Americans. It has been adapted to suit today’s sporting standards, but largely the game hasn’t changed from that which would have been played many years ago. So, this month, you might go out of your way to watch a lacrosse game in person or on TV to learn a bit more about how Native Americans lived and played. If you’re feeling ambitious, then you might want to try the game on for size too. Kids, especially, might want to enjoy playing this game. It may even take the place of football or soccer in their hearts, which can broaden their horizons and allow them to try new ways to enjoy their athleticism.
5. Take in a Native American Film Festival
During this month, you may get lucky and find that there is a Native American Film Festival in your community or at least close by. Usually independent theaters, universities and museums try to utilize Native American Heritage Month to show off amazing films from Native Americans. Since we live in a world where Native Americans are more often than not placed into stereotypical roles, these film festivals can be an excellent way to learn about their culture. It is also a way to see how today’s Native Americans feel about their culture. If you don’t have a film festival happening near you then don’t worry. There’s a lot of great films that you can watch yourself or with your friends and family. Many can even be rented online, which will make your life a lot easier.
6. Explore Recipes
Native American food tends to be overlooked in many places. Largely because there aren’t a lot of restaurants that serve this type of food. Unless you live near a reservation, then you might be out of luck if you’re hoping to try out this cuisine. Of course, there are always recipes that you can try out though. The internet is filled with delicious ideas that will allow you to try out the food that Native Americans are for centuries and even some dishes with a modern twist. You might even want to incorporate one of these recipes into your Thanksgiving meal to add even more authenticity to the dish. You never know, you may find a new dish that will make the rounds on your holiday table every year.
7. Talk to Tribal Leaders
If you would really love some insight into Native American life and culture, then one of the best ways to do this is talk to a tribal leader. If you live near a reservation, you should be able to make an appointment to talk with a leader. Generally, people are very open to questions, especially when they’re coming from an inquisitive mind. You might write down questions you have about culture and history before going in. This is a great assignment for children too, as it will allow them to learn how to talk to people from other cultures while showing respect for their heritage. You may learn a lot about modern tribal life from this experience, which is why it is one of the best ways to celebrate the heritage month.
8. Visit a Festival
During this time of the year, you are more likely to run into a Native American Festival. This is one of the best ways to learn about tribal life and see some of the customs and traditions that Native Americans still practice today. Sometimes, tribes will make an appearance at autumn festivals, so you might look around to see what is on the menu when it comes to your local festivals. If you can’t find a festival nearby, then many festivals will record their performances and lessons to share with those who can’t make it. These videos can be found on popular streaming sites as well as the websites and social media pages dedicated to the specific festivals.
9. Purchase Art
Art is a major part of Native American culture and it comes in all shapes and sizes. One of the more common items purchased is hand woven blankets. These make a nice addition to any home for functionality or simply beauty. Handmade pottery is also a great option which can be used in the home or put out as a display. Of course, there are many other forms of art like jewelry and painting that can be purchased to support Native Americans. You might even look up modern Native American artists to check out artwork that has roots in the past, but still offers a contemporary twist on the culture. Purchasing art work doesn’t just help support Native Americans, but it also preserves the culture so future generations can also treasure it.
10. Pass on History
One of the best ways to celebrate this month is to actually pass down your knowledge about Native Americans. Through the years, tribes have been thinned out and their future is always in question. So, learn as much as you can about Native Americans and make sure to spread this knowledge to your children. There are even child-friendly websites that will allow you to teach children more about Native Americans. Apart from that, you can also work to learn a language or craft from the culture. By picking up some knowledge on at least one tribe, you are helping to preserve Native American culture.
Native Americans have played a crucial role in the success of our nation. It is imperative to show them the respect and compassion that they deserve. This month, you may want to take a little time to help celebrate their culture, so that future generations will be able to have the same luxury. These methods of celebrating won’t cost you much, so there won’t be anything holding you back.