November is Native American Heritage month, but it seems like more of an affront than honor. Like making Black History Month the shortest month of the year, choosing to celebrate Natives during the same month that contains one of the most harmful settler-colonial myths is insulting. What started as a day to honor Native peoples in the early 1900’s grew into a full-blown month in the 1990’s. But there are no perks or fanfare. Even worse, in 2019 the President decided to proclaim November, “National American Heritage And Founders Month,” essentially glorifying our genocide in a month intended to honor us. This proclamation negates any attempt at celebrating Indigenous Peoples as not that much of an effort was made, judging by the website the government has set up for this occasion. It’s not great that it calls Indigenous Peoples ‘first Americans’ as this term implies that they are part of the building of the nation state when they were in fact genocided in order to do so. It’s also problematic as that the site is through the National Parks Service, with whom Indigenous people share a dark history.
To put things in perspective, November is the one month of the year that is dedicated to honoring Native Peoples, yet we are so far from acknowledging that this November CNN had the audacity to refer to us as "something else” in a survey despite Indigenous voters and electoral efforts being crucial to swing the election.
While the settler-colonial holiday of Thanksgiving is problematic every year, this year it is especially crucial that we re-think Thanksgiving. Some jokes have been made about how this Thanksgiving, occurring during a pandemic year, bears similarity to the original in its disease spreading nature. But far from funny, this year has been deadly for many native communities hit disproportionately hard by COVID-19. And the bringing of disease to Native people is hardly a thing of the past. In Minnesota for instance, despite other restrictions and regulations, pipeline construction has been given the go-ahead and thousands of workers are going to be brought in near reservations.
Despite all the horribleness of having to deal with combatting the settler-colonial lies, Indigenous Peoples, such as Great Plains Action Society, are working to uplift the truth. Truthsgiving events include not just celebration, but mutual aid and frontline support. According to the website, “Truthsgiving is about doing the Truth...to create a new Truth, a Truth that shapes a better future.” The same should be true for Native American Heritage Month but Indigenous Peoples are still fighting to be recognized legitimately in a month that is being whitewashed by Thanksgiving, National American Heritage And Founders Month and shallow acknowledgement by a white supremacist government.