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Native American Heritage Month: Celebrating Individuals and Exploring History

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As Native American Heritage Month approaches, we’re excited to see the number of blogs and other resources created by Library staff that focused on individuals, topics, and events from Native American history. We’ve gathered some here and hope you’ll find ways to incorporate these stories into your heritage month teaching and learning.

Image of Sequoyah from the front door of the Adams Building
Sequoyah, Library of Congress John Adams Building. Carol Highsmith, 2007

A door into the Library’s Adams building features figures who are connected to the history of the written word. One is Sequoyah, the creator of the Cherokee writing system. He used parts of the European alphabet to create a writing system for his people. You can learn more about the newspapers the Cherokee people created in this blog post from Teaching with the Library of Congress and this post from the Library’s Headlines and Heroes blog.

Some of your students may know the story of Maria Tallchief, a prima ballerina who was part of the New York City Ballet. A muse for George Balanchine, she performed in a number of his ballets as well as theaters in Paris, Russia, and throughout the United States. A member of the Osage Nation, she remained active in the community and was given the name “Princess Wa-Txthe-thonba” meaning “the Woman of Two Standards.”

Joy Harjo, an enrolled member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, is the first Native American Poet Laureate. An award-winning author of six books, she has worked to highlight the work of other Native American writers through her Living Nations Living Words project. A talented musician as well, Harjo brought her saxophone to her first poetry reading at the Library. The Living Nations Living Words educators guide offers support for teaching with the project.

Top of webpage on the Legacies of Service: Celebrating Native Americans Page from the Veterans History ProjectThe Library’s Veterans History Project (VHP) has collected and highlighted the work of Native American soldiers within its collections. Recently, VHP has created a new feature, Legacies of Service: Celebrating Native Americans in addition to resources on the Navajo Code Talkers and the new Native American Veterans Memorial. In this essay, Nathan Cross, who created the Navajo Code Talkers research guide, reflects on what he learned from the Code Talkers.

Looking for additional resources for Native American Heritage Month? Here are a few more:

Let us know in the comments how you and your students commemorate Native American Heritage Month.


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