November is Native American History Month (Atleast it should be...)

| January 23, 2008 - 11:43 am

Tags: equality, Native American, progressive

November is Native American history month. Or, atleast it should be. There is a ton of history to be learned on Native Americans. There are well over 500 tribes, and several thousands of years of history. I feel that Native Americans deserve their own month, and it should be in November.

In South Dakota, we only have one day. It's on Columbus Day, but here, it is called Native American Day. I never really understood why Columbus has a day. It's not like we have days for other genocidal maniacs in this country. It's not like people are going "Oh, we have a three day weekend, because it's Hitler Day." I just find that very offensive.

If you or anyone you know are interested in what would Native American History Month have to offer, there are several battles (I personally live near several battle sites, and the closest is Wounded Knee, which is where the Wounded Knee Masacre and the 1973 AIM stand off took place), and various innovations, such as medicine, textiles and herbs that have helped changed history. You can learn more in Indian Givers: How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World Copyright © 1988 by Jack McIver Weatherford.

Here is an excerpt:

"In Europe the short strands of the Old World cotton served primarily for padding jerkins under the coats of mail worn in battle. In time the uses of cotton expanded to the making of fustian, which was a coarse material built on a warp of stronger flax and a woof of Old World cotton.

Not until American cotton arrived in England, however, did the phrase "cotton cloth" appear in English; the Oxford English Dictionary's earliest date for it is 1552.

The long-strand cotton of the American Indians so surpassed in quality the puny cotton of the Old World that the Spaniards mistook American Indian cloth for silk and interpreted its abundance as yet further proof that these new lands lay close to China.

For thousands of years before the European conquest of America the Indians had been using this carefully developed cotton to weave some of the finest textiles in the world. Many remnants of these early cloths survive to the present day, their colors and designs intact, after several thousand years in the desert burials of Peru, Bolivia, and Chile.

Cotton is still the most important and widely used vegetable fiber in the world, and the overwhelming majority of the cottons grown are of American origin."

November IS Native American History Month

November is definitely Native American History Month. Unfortunately, its not widely recognized in our society. On my campus, we celebrate the entire month with movies, facts about Native Americans, and music. We also recognized the first Native American graduate from my university and his accomplishments. I wish we could do more but when I was president of the organization that sponsored the celebration, I did not know what I could do to celebrate the month. I wish I had known about the above mentioned book.

Perhaps there needs to be a public education campaign about the month. You could work to get the month officially recognized with the Department of Education so that teachers will feel compelled to inform their students of Native American accomplishments. Or work with media to raise awareness. Or even work with the campuses in your state to highlight important events in Native American history.

For inspiration, you should definitely read up on how Black History month became so popular.It started with just a week in February and now its obviously the whole month. Stand up and Speak out for the recognition of the achievements and accomplishments of Native Americans.

Good luck.

Quiana McKenzie
Washington and Lee University
Class of 2008

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