Native November is coming. This means that the Natives are (sometimes) celebrated as living people instead of people of the past. November is a good month in that it recognizes the cultures as alive and well. Like Black History month and other months, it is great that schools dedicate a month to consider the cultures. But Native Americans live every day, so it shouldn’t be relegated to just one month.
November is a scary month for parents of little ones. It comes with the risk that your child might have to participate in a Thanksgiving play with paper/fluorescent feathers. They will be asked to run across the stage doing the “Indian call” by chanting and hitting their mouth with a flat hand. The pilgrims will walk with grace across the stage (with no sign that they intend to steal the Natives’ land, of course). They will sit down to a nice feast, and everyone will feel happy about that nice time in history when they go to eat their Thanksgiving dinners. (Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy eating on Thanksgiving as much as the next guy, but I recognize the holiday for what it is. Cultural genocide is a real thing.)
As November approaches, we should think carefully about the ways in which we honor Natives all year long. I always get anxious as November approaches because it brings difficult memories of my own schooling. We should think about representation and whether we willingly cheer on a team that uses a Native slur as its team name or a cartoonish representation of a Native person. We should think about the literature we teach and the ideologies we value. What are your thoughts about Native November?