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Native American & Alaska Native Heritage Month: Home
Interested in learning more about Native American & Alaska Native Heritage Month? You have come to the right place.
November is Native American and Alaska Native Heritage Month. The celebration of Indigenous cultures began as a week-long celebration in 1986, when President Reagan proclaimed the week of November 23-30, 1986 as "American Indian Week." Every President since 1995 has issued annual proclamations designating the month of November as the time to celebrate the cultures, accomplishments, and contributions of Native American and Alaska Native communities.
Indigenous Peoples can be identified according to certain characteristics:
Most importantly, they self-identify as Indigenous peoples
There is a historical link with those who inhabited a country or region at the time when people of different cultures or ethnic origins arrived
They have a strong link to territories and surrounding natural resources
They have distinct social, economic or political systems
They have a distinct language, culture and beliefs
They are marginalised and discriminated against by the state
They maintain and develop their ancestral environments and systems as distinct peoples
Each of these characteristics may be more or less important depending on the situation. Indigenous Peoples are also known as First Peoples, Aboriginal Peoples, or Native Peoples. In some countries there are specific terms such as Adivasis (India) or Janajatis (Nepal).
Indigenous Peoples have a special relationship with the land on which they have lived for generations, sometimes for tens of thousands of years. They possess crucial knowledge about how to manage natural resources sustainably and act as guardians or custodians of the land for the next generation. Losing their land means a loss of identity.