The United States of America were colonized by European settlers and explorers who were looking for new opportunity, but they weren’t the first people to live in the vast wilderness that greeted them upon arrival. All across the land, that we now call America, were indigenous populations that had been there over 15,000 years.

According to the World Health Organization, “Indigenous populations are communities who identify themselves as being part of a distinct cultural group, descended from groups present in the area before modern states were created and current borders defined. They generally maintain cultural and social identities, and social, economic, cultural and political institutions, separate from the mainstream society or culture.”

Several states have celebrated their own American Indian Day going back as far as 1916. More recently several states have designated Columbus Day as Native American or Indigenous Peoples Day. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November “National American Indian Heritage Month” and similar proclamations, under variants on the name, have been issued each year since 1994.

November is a time to celebrate the culture, accomplishments and contributions of the descendants of the people who were the first inhabitants of land now known as the United States. Through dance, family traditions and music, we can see the diversity and long history of Indigenous people across the country. Celebrate the history, culture and traditions of American Indians and Alaska Natives in a special collection of films, short stories, and resources from Public Television.

For more information, you can also check out the websites for Native American Heritage Month and U.S. Department of the Interior-Indian Affairs.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Madison Senior Center and a link back to the original post.