Native American Heritage Month-November 2016

November is a special month for Western American history. In August 1990, President George H.W. Bush declared the month of November to be Native American Heritage Month, or as it is commonly referred to American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. The first sponsor of Native American Heritage Month was through the American Indian Heritage Foundation by the founder Pale Moon Rose. Rose was of Cherokee-Seneca descent and an Ojibwa. The name Win-yan-sa-han-wi, or “Princess of the Pale Moon,” was given to her by Alfred Michael “Chief” Venne.

Picture from Pinterest

Picture from Pinterest

The bill read in part that “the President has authorized and requested to call upon Federal, State and local Governments, groups and organizations and the people of the United States to observe such month with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities.” This was a landmark bill honoring America’s Tribal people.

Years later, President George W. Bush signed into law legislation introduced by Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto), to designate the Friday after Thanksgiving as Native American Heritage Day. The bill was supported by the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) and 184 federally recognized tribes, and designates the day after Thanksgiving as a day to pay tribute to Native Americans for their many contributions to the United States. To learn more about the bill, visit

November is a time for Natives to share their culture, traditions, music, crafts, dance, and ways and concepts of life. This gives Native people the opportunity to express issues within their community, to their city, county and state officials to voice their concerns and propose solutions for building bridges of understanding and friendship in their local area.

Charmayne Champion-Shaw, who is enrolled in the Cheyenne-Aprapahoe Tribe of Oklahoma, explains how she is involved in Native American Heritage Month. “Each week of every November I am engaged on an almost daily basis speaking, presenting, educating and sharing personal stories about being Native with groups across our campus and IU system, community, city, and state.”  

It is also a great opportunity to educate the public about tribes, to raise general awareness about the challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present (NoDAPL in Standing Rock, North Dakota), and ways that they have conquered these challenges.

“I am proud to be a Native because by living, I am proof that white colonists failed to kill us off,” Colorado-Native Damian Mutch said. “We survived, we are here, and I am a testament to that by simply existing. I’m proud to be here and I’m proud to represent my ancestors who lived through so much to allow me to be here.”

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Picture from

IUPUI has recently started offering American Indian programs and it has had a wonderful turn out for the community and students wanting to learn more about Native American history. Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) is the academic studies program within IUPUI’s American Indian program at the IU School of Liberal Arts.

According to IUPUI’s Liberal Arts webpage, the program is interdisciplinary, combining the efforts of faculty throughout the university. NAIS offers students an opportunity to learn about the Native American cultures through literature, philosophy, anthropology and religious studies where values, lifeways, spirituality and social/political institutions of the Indigenous Nations and societies are discussed.

Have interest in taking a few courses on NAIS? Visit the IUPUI Liberal Arts website!


Visit the American Indian Program office, Multicultural Center, or email Charmayne Champion Shaw at!

Tuesday, November 22: MCC Cultural Move Series Film: “Up Heartbreak Hill”; IUPUI MCC UC101 6-8 p.m.

Monday, November 28: NAIS Program How-Wow!; IUPUI Cavanaugh Hall CA508 4-5 p.m.

Wednesday, November 30: Community Conversation: How Do We Create Places of Honor; IUPUI Taylor Hall UC104 6 p.m.