Celebrating National Native American Heritage Month

National American Indian Heritage Month is celebrated in November to recognize the first Americans’ significant contributions. It was first recognized in 1915 with the annual meeting of the Congress of the American Indian Association, and in 1990 President George H. W. Bush declared the month of November as the first National American Indian Heritage Month. We dedicate this month to sharing the tradition, culture, dance, arts, and way of life of America’s tribal people. Native American Indians have made a unique and essential contribution to our nation and community.  We can all celebrate National American Indian Heritage by educating ourselves, especially by starting in our own home of Jersey City. 

Native American Influence in Jersey City 

Jersey City has a rich history of Native Americans. It was inhabited by the indigenous Algonquian tribe who called themselves Lenape, “the People,” and they called Hudson County their home. Many people aren’t aware, but the Native Americans named Communipaw and Harsimus, along with Hoboken. The area near Liberty State Park is the location of the indigenous village of Pavonia. This is where the Kieft’s War, also known as the Wappinger war, took place. It was a conflict between Gov. Kieft of New Netherlands and the Lenape Indians of New York and New Jersey. Check out our article, The Story of Jersey City & Her Indigenous Peoples, to learn more about the history of Native Americans in Jersey City and what it was like Pre-Jersey City. 

Archival map of the former fortified Dutch village in 1660 Bergen Square, one block south of what is now Journal Square. Photo Courtesy of The New Jersey Room, Jersey City Free Public Library.

How to Celebrate National Native American Heritage Month 

There are many ways you can celebrate National American Indian Heritage Month. Below are a few ways to get started! 

Dive into Contemporary Indigenous Art 

The MET celebrates National Native American Heritage Month in Watson Library by featuring ‘A Salute to the Artistic Legacy of Native American Veterans” by Amanda Raquel Dorval. Watson Library will launch its Index of Indigenous and Native American Artists at the end of November, a resource for identifying relevant publications online, including the names of over one thousand Indigenous and Native American artists. They also have an exhibit called “Water Memories,” where you can explore water’s significance to Indigenous peoples and Nations in the United States through historical, modern, and contemporary artworks.

Visit the National Museum of the American Indian in New York

Just a path train away, you can visit the National Museum of the American Indian in New York City. Here you can find one of the most extensive collections of Native American arts and artifacts worldwide. The museum has approximately 266,000 catalog records and 825,000 items representing over 12,000 years of history of more than 1,200 indigenous cultures throughout the Americas. 

Explore Native American Arts & Crafts

Native American artwork and crafts differed from region to region. Each demonstrated great skill in basketry, beadwork, pottery, quillwork, ceramics, and sculpture. Their crafts were used for practical reasons such as transporting and storing food. A fun way to study Native American history and culture is by engaging your family with arts and crafts projects, and if you have kids check out this article here for ideas.

Explore Indigenous Deep Connection to Nature 

Native Americans have a deep appreciation and respect for Nature. They named the mountains, rivers, streams, and other natural features around them. Check out the National Park Service website as they honor Native American Heritage Month. Learn about Indigenous history and heritage in national parks and enjoy reading the stories about the history of these public parks and how indigenous people have shaped them. Explore the mountains in New Jersey and learn which were named by Native Americans and their influence on the land.  

We hope you enjoyed learning more about National American Indian Heritage Month and celebrate by exploring a few of the ideas!

Arati Patel
Author: Arati Patel

Arati is a professional immersed in the environmental and animal welfare field. In her free time, she enjoys walking and spending time with shelter dogs, exploring the outdoors, and always ready to find a new coffee shop. A born and raised Jersey City local, she considers herself a life-long learner who is ready to write and craft inspiring stories to share with everyone!