Native American Heritage Month

This is a guest post by Megan White, Visitor Services Specialist in the Library. 

November is Native American Heritage Month. The resources below from the Library’s collections celebrate the diversity and vivacity of Native American cultures. Some of these resources are rooted in deep tradition, others are modern takes on long-practiced customs, but they all offer an opportunity to foster conversations with family.

Learn about the current U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo, and other Native American poets: Start by reading the Poetry and Literature Office’s introduction to Joy Harjo or listening to Harjo’s conversation with former Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith and the Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden. Then explore Harjo’s most recent project as Poet Laureate, Living Nations, Living Words, an interactive map featuring poems written by contemporary Native poets from all over the country.

screenshot of the Living Nations, Living Words storymap

Find out what Indigenous Territory you live in: Check out “Indian Tribes, Cultures, and Languages”, a digitized map from the National Atlas of the United States of America created by the Department of the Interior and held in the Library’s Geography and Map Division. You can also explore Native-Land, an interactive map created by a nonprofit organization in Canada, that illustrates the complexity of Indigenous boundaries in your area and throughout the world.

Watch a world champion hoop dancer perform: View a recorded webcast of Nakotah LaRance, a nine-time winner at the World Championship Hoop Dance Contest. You’ll see three other hoop dancers in this webcast, including one who performs a hip hop style hoop dance.

Listen to Native American flutes: One of the most unexpected collections in the Library is the Dayton C. Miller Flute Collection. It contains nearly 1,700 flutes and other wind instruments, statuary, books, music, and other materials related to the flute. Learn more about the Native American flutes in the collection with Native American instrument-maker and performer Barry D. Higgins. Then watch world-renowned musician R. Carlos Nakai’s performance at the Library as part of the American Folklife Center’s Homegrown Concert Series.

Tell your own story: Story Corps and the Library of Congress work together to collect humanity’s stories. Listen to this heartwarming recording with Diane Tells His Name and Bonnie Buchanan and consider sharing your own story with Story Corps Connect.

You can find many more resources on this portal, a shared resource between the Library, the Smithsonian, the National Park Service, and other cultural institutions. In particular, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian has a wealth of resources, including Native Knowledge 360 and the Essential Understandings for important considerations when talking to children (or anyone!) about American Indians.

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