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26 Things to Do for Native American Heritage Month

Visit an exhibit, take a self-guided tour around the city, or attend a pow-wow.

The National Native American Veterans Memorial designed by Harvey Pratt of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes. Photograph by Alan Karchmer for the National Museum of the American Indian.

November is Native American Heritage Month, and there’s no shortage of ways to celebrate. Here’s a look:

Activism and Awareness

Walk for Justice: Free Leonard Peltier
Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial
November 13

Leonard Peltier is an American Indian who’s been imprisoned for almost 50 years after being convicted of murdering two FBI agents. Supporters have long claimed his prosecution was flawed and called for his release. Peltier’s recent poor health and old age have pushed supporters to come together for a march and a rally. A walk to the Capitol starts at 11 AM. A prayer and rally at the Lincoln Memorial begin at 2 PM.

Read about Indigenous tribes of Washington, DC (online)

Can you name all the first people to live here? Read the American Library Association’s brief history and find more resources to further explore issues DC-area tribes face today. You can also visit each tribe’s website to learn more.

 

Presentations, Lectures, Talks

Authenticity in Native literature and film (online)
Tuesday, November 15, 7–8 PM

Join Devon A. Mihesuah, an enrolled citizen of the Choctaw Nation and professor at the University of Kansas, in a discussion sponsored by the Arlington Public Library about the importance of Indigenous representation. She will break down the large topic using both her books and popular films and literature that were both successful and not in Native representation. Free but need to RSVP.

Native Knowledge 360° recordings (online)

Watch more than a dozen videos on various topics on the website of Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. Perfect for students and teachers, Native Knowledge 360° is a great way for non-Natives to hear from Native activists, artists, poets, and more on Native American history and cultures.

 

Tours

Guide to Indigenous Lands: A Digital Mapping Project (online)

Learn about both the current and historical significance that various DC locations have to Native people on this walking tour. Elizabeth Rule, an enrolled citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and professor at American University, reached out to the local Native community, scholars, and historians to gather knowledge to use for app. It’s free for both Apple and Android users.

Potomac People: Indigenous Tribes of Eastern Prince William
Potomac Heritage National Park
Saturday, November 19, 9–10:30 AM

Who were the first people to live in what we currently call Prince William County? This free tour will go in depth on the lives of the Doeg Tribe and the consequences of European settlement.

Native American Heritage Day Walk
Piscataway Park  and National Colonial Farm
Friday, November 25, 12:30–1:30 PM

Spend time Thanksgiving weekend identifying trees and their importance to the Piscataway people, both past and present. Take in the Indigenous Cultural Landscape as you walk through the trail along the Potomac River. It’s $10 (free for the Native American community).

 

Films

Native Cinema Showcase 2022 (Online)
November 18-25

The National Museum of the American Indian’s yearly film showcase is back. This year’s free showcase is entirely online. It includes 31 films from 30 Native nations, including 10 Indigenous languages spoken on screen. While there are many films to choose from, we recommend the topical film Imagining the Indian: The Fight Against Native American Mascoting, given the Washington football team’s recent name change.

 

Exhibits

National Museum of American Indian exhibits

1. Why We Serve: Native Americans in the United States Armed Forces and weekend celebration
Exhibit: November 10, 2022–November 30, 2023; celebration: November 12–13

Visit this new exhibit this week to commemorate both Indigenous Heritage Month and Veterans day. And in honor of the new National Native American Veterans Memorial, celebrate this weekend with music, cultural performances, a discussion on preserving oral histories, a film showcase, and more. Then meet the memorial designer and authors of the book Why We Serve. It’s all free, and you can attend in-person or livestream the events.

Other exhibits you can visit while you are there: Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations, Our Universes: Traditional Knowledge Shapes Our World, Return to a Native Place: Algonquian Peoples of the Chesapeake

 

Dance and Music

Mali Obomsawin with Taylor Ho Bynum and Olivia Shortt
Hamiltonian Artists
November 12, 6 PM

Mali Obomsawin, who performs at this free concert, is a citizen of the Odanak First Nation in Quebec and an award-winning songwriter, bassist, and composer. The Smithsonian Folkways Recordings artist combines both Wabanaki songs and jazz to create a space all her own.

46th Annual BAIC Pow Wow – Healing for our Community
Timonium Fair Ground
November 19, 11 AM–7 PM

Take a day trip to Baltimore to celebrate Native American food, culture, heritage, and crafts and Native dancers and drummers. Tickets are $5-10.

Connor Chee Piano Concert
National Gallery of Art
November 20, 1–2 PM

Spend a relaxing Sunday afternoon listening to Navajo pianist and composer Connor Chee. Appreciate the medley of songs that combine both his classical training and inherited Navajo chants and songs. It’s free but registration is required.

Tony Duncan on Hoop Dancing
National Museum of the American Indian
November 25, 11 AM–4:30 PM

Join award-winning hoop dancer Tony Duncan for this free event where he demonstrates and teaches the significance and history of the dance.  

 

Shop & Support

Intertribal Creatives
106 N Lee St., Alexandria

Part retail space, part gallery and cultural center, it’s open year round to support Native small businesses and create community among Natives living in urban centers. All proceeds go towards sustaining the non-profit Running Strong for American Indian Youth. Products include beadwork, jewelry, and art. It’s open Thursday to Sunday, 11 AM–5 PM.

Native Art Market
National Museum of the American Indian
December 3-4, 5:30 PM

Find your next holiday gift or maybe your next favorite home art. While it’s not technically in November, you can always support Native businesses beyond the month by purchasing from Indigenous artists. Look for beadwork, jewelry, paintings, photography, pottery, and sculpture and meet a wide range of Native artists, from traditional to contemporary.

 

Books

Arlington Public Library and DC Public Library

Don’t know what to read next? Check out the Arlington Public Library and DC Public Library’s recommendations. The Native lens exists in all genres, from poetry to true crime.

 

Activities for Children

Chester Nez and the Unbreakable Code: A Navajo Code Talkers Story (Online)

Children will love hearing Joseph Bruchac read his illustrated book on the life of a Navajo code talker. The Nulhegan Abenaki citizen has written and shared stories for more than 40 years. This recording is free to listen to.

StoryWalk: The First Strawberries
Tenley-Friendship Library

Take a walk along the library’s windows on Wisconsin Ave. and read about the Cherokee legend about the creation of strawberries.

Native American Heritage Month Activity Kits
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library

Pick up a free activity packet (while supplies last) that includes coloring, word searches, writing activities, and puzzles.  

Three Sisters Celebration
Georgetown Library
November 22, 4–5 PM

Learn about the story, customs, and history of the Three Sisters, a traditional planting method long used by Indigenous people that focuses on the relationship between corn, beans and squash. Then have the kids make crafts inspired the story.

Learning about Indigenous Peoples
Mt. Pleasant Library
November 26, 11 AM–2 PM

The free three-hour event includes a puppet show, a lesson on the Piscataway people, a bean-planting demo, and story time.

Kids Club at Central: Native American Heritage Month
Arlington Public Library
November 30, 4:15–5 PM

Sit down with your kid to read the children’s book Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith. Learn about jingle dress dancing and other pow-wow dances, then get up to have your children jump around to try it themselves.