Tribute to American
Indian Heritage

"Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

-Ancient Indian Proverb

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"If the white man wants to live in peace with the Indian, he can live in peace.....Treat all men alike. Give them all the same law. Give them all an even chance to live and grow. All men were made by the same Great Spirit Chief. They are all brothers. The Earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.......Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop, free to work, free to trade....where I choose my own teachers, free to follow the religion of my fathers, free to think and talk and act for myself, and I will obey every law, or submit to the penalty."

-Chief Joseph
Nez Perce (Nimiputimt)

Celebrating Native American and Alaska Natives Heritage

The month-long national celebration we call American Indian Heritage Month has its roots in the early 20th century when a Seneca Indian, Dr. Arthur C. Parker, convinced the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the "First Americans". In 1914, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. By December 14, 1915, he has secured endorsements for a day honoring Native Americans from 24 state governments.

In 1915, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, president of the American Indian Association issued a proclamation declaring the second Saturday of each May as an American Indian Day. He also issued the formal appeal to recognize Indians as U.S. citizens. New York Governor Charles S. Whitman declared the first state sponsored American Indian Day in May 1916.

From 1985-1989, Congress had enacted legislation designating and "American Indian Heritage Week." to honor and recognize the original peoples of this land. This paved the way for a month-long observance. In 1990 a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” was approved by then President George H. W. Bush.

American Indian and Alaska Native peoples have made many contributions to the founding of this country and the American character. Some of the values that Native Americans have added to this country’s collective spirit include: understanding that people can thrive and grow in harmony with nature; that people with differing backgrounds, cultures, religions, and traditions can build a nation; and that this diversity provides the foundation for a stronger.

Celebrating the contributions and rich history of Native Americans is important to understanding our national heritage. It is just as important to acknowledge the injustices that have been imposed on American Indian people. Celebration history and culture must do more than honor the past. It must also look to the future and move us to uphold the respect and dignity of those to whom promises have been made.

The development of this nation created any number of legally binding agreements and laws to guarantee the authority of tribal governments. American needs to honor those agreements and commitments each day of the year. American Indian Heritage Month allows us to, as a nation, reflect on the contributions of Native Americans and to acknowledge our responsibilities to continue to meet obligations that were created as America emerged as a new nation.

It is common in our culture to use November to give thanks for abundance with which we have been blessed. It is also an appropriate time to remember the many ways that American Indians and Alaska Natives contributed to the founding of America. Without the help and support of Native Americans, there would not be an America.

By Bill Breitsprecher
©2006, Breitlinks.  All Rights Reserved

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Research Guide:  
Native American Heritage

Here are some resources to learn more about the contributions of Native Americans.  Conducting a search for information in an organized manner will help us locate what we need with the least amount of work.  It also helps ensure that we start projects with good information.  To see an easy to follow outline to help organize a research project, check our Mr. B's "Take Five" Research Process.   To see more about writing, please look at Mr. B's Writing Quick Tips for "tips & tricks" and links to other Websites that cover virtually ALL aspects grammar and writing.  

Topic:  Native Americans refers to the first people to inhabit the Americas.  Before the Europeans arrived, this land was inhabited by rich and diverse cultures.  The term is also used to represent the descendants of the original inhabitants of America, who continue to enrich American society with their cultural heritage and traditions.

Library Subject Headings.  Understanding the difference between keyword and subject heading searches is important.  Keywords represent text that appears in a document.  Subject headings are assigned by an information specialists to help researchers identify resources that cover similar topics.  A powerful tool, subject headings create connections between sources and allow a user to benefit from someone else's work classifying information. 

Computerize library catalogs, can be searched with keywords, just like most Internet search engines.   Many useful resources, however, do not share keywords -- this means they will not be located by keyword searches.  Subject headings, however, identify documents that contain information about similar topics even when those documents do not share keywords.  Here is a listing of common subject headings (Sears), typically used in public and school libraries.

bulletIndians of North American Indians
bulletNames of individual tribes, such as Cherokee or Makah
bulletNames of cultural regions, such as Eastern Woodlands

Note:  Combine any of the above terms with the headings below to find topic-specific resources.  For example:  Indians -- Attitudes; Indians of North America -- Businesspeople; Cherokee -- children; Indians-- Scholarships, fellowships, etc.

bullet-- Attitudes
bullet-- Biography
bullet-- Biography -- Juvenile literature
bullet-- Businesspeople
bullet-- Children
bullet-- Education
bullet-- Civil rights
bullet-- Scholarships, fellowships, etc.
bullet-- Cultural assimilation
bullet-- Drama
bullet-- Employment
bullet-- Ethnic identity
bullet-- Fiction
bullet-- Genealogy -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
bullet-- Health and hygiene -- Wisconsin -- Statistics
bullet-- History
bullet-- Bibliography
bullet-- Juvenile fiction
bullet-- Juvenile literature -- Bibliography
bullet-- Politics and government
bullet-- Race identity
bullet-- Scholarships, fellowships, etc. -- United States -- Directories
bullet-- Social conditions
bullet-- Social life and customs
bullet-- Social life and customs
bullet-- students
bullet-- Wisconsin
bullet-- Women

Decimal Numbers

Note:  Classification of Native American topics by Dewey Decimal numbers is complex because the term does not actually refer to a specific ethnic or cultural group.  While some Dewey Numbers are suggested below, be sure to search the on-line catalog using the subject headings identified above to see how a specific library has used to Dewey Decimal System to organize its collection on its shelves. 

If you need more help, please ask your local librarian - they will be more than happy to assist you.

bullet270.089 Religions
bullet299 - Religion
bullet305.23 - Children
bullet305.4 Women
bullet323.1 - Claims, Government Relations
bullet398 - Folklore
bullet419 Sign Language
bullet497 - Languages
bullet728 - Dwellings
bullet790.1 - Games
bullet793.3 -  Dances
bullet812 - Drama
bullet897 - Literature
bullet970.004 - History, North America
bullet970.1 - Indians of North America
bullet973 - History, United States

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