Written in collaboration with the Greater Cincinnati Native American Coalition and the Materials Selection & Acquisition Department of the Downtown Main Library
November kicks off Native American Heritage Month! This is a time for Native Americans to celebrate their heritage and for non-Native people to listen and learn. To help teachers, parents, and caregivers navigate celebrating this month with kids in a way that honors and respects Indigenous peoples, Education Coordinator April Hester from the Greater Cincinnati Native American Coalition provided these tips:
Know Whose Land You're On
“Learn about the Native peoples whose homelands you live on,” said Hester. “There are over 40 federally recognized Native American Nations who are from Ohio. These Nations still exist and are thriving in other parts of the country and maintain their ancestral ties to this land. Find out why there are no federally recognized tribes in Ohio now and how these Nations are reviving their cultures today.”
Teach the Truth
Don't teach false truths about Native Americans in history. “This includes Thanksgiving,” said Hester. “Use this time to honor Native peoples and Indigenous values like generosity, family, community, and connection to land. Check out the National Museum of American Indians' instructional resource on their website.”
Talk and teach about the diversity of Native cultures and Indigenous peoples today. “There are 574 federally recognized tribes in what is now the United States and thousands more Indigenous peoples throughout Turtle Island,” said Hester. “We are still here with vibrant cultures and a variety of languages and customs. We don't all live in teepees and ride horses. We are thriving and resilient.”
Support Native American Artist and Organizations
Local organizations like the Greater Cincinnati Native American Coalition are a great way to get involved in advocacy around various issues that impact Indigenous peoples. When it comes to supporting artists and makers, Hester underlines the importance of making sure what you buy is actually Native made. "Look for contemporary art and jewelry, not antiquities which could have been obtained illegally or unethically," she said. "the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 makes it illegal for non-Natives to sell art, craft, or jewelry falsely suggesting it is Native made, a Native American product, or the product of a particular Native American tribe or Indian arts and crafts organization in the U.S. A reputable dealer or artist can give you a written guarantee of authenticity."
Read Books by Native Authors
Our staff put together the below list of children’s books written by Indigenous authors.
Hester also recommends checking out scholar Debbie Reese's book lists on American Indians in Childrens Literature.