“Without your language or your land, you are not who you say you are.” Loretta Afraid of Bear,” Oglala Lakota

National Native American History Month is a time to celebrate the many contributions,  achievements, sacrifices,cultural and historical legacy of the original inhabitants of what is now the United States and their descendants: the American Indian and Alaska Native people.

According to the indianyouth.org, there are 566 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and villages in the United States, each with their own culture, language and history.  Every tribe has unique traditions and distinct styles of housing, dress, and food.  Federally recognized tribes vary in population and land base, but all are considered sovereign nations and hold a specific nation-to-nation relationship with the United States.

In celebration of Native American Heritage Month, check out a few of their contributions and achievements to US society:

  • Sign Language:Today, hand signals are used to communicate with the deaf and dumb. A similar system was originated to facilitate trade between Native Americans and early trappers/traders. Although the hand signals in use today are different, the concept behind them is the same.
  • Military Service: The participation rate of Native Americans in military service is higher than for any other ethnic group in the U.S.  Members from many Indian nations have served with distinction and in a way that helped the U.S. win World Wars I and II… through the use of their various Native languages. Their proud military service has continued to be important in the wartime conflicts of Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Iraq.
  • Oral Contraceptive: There are recorded instances of Native Americans who took medicines which prevented pregnancies. Such instances date back to the 18th century, which are centuries earlier from the time modern oral contraceptives were developed by western scientists. The Shoshone tribe used the crushed powder of stone seed as a form of oral contraceptive, while the Potawatomi nation used herb dogbane, which when taken orally would prevent pregnancies.
  • Calendars: Were developed by Native Americans throughout North America, Mesoamerica, and South America. They are known to have been in used since 600 BC. American Indian calendars were so precise that by the 5th century BC they were only 19 minutes off. 

For more information on Native American History Month click here:  https://www.indianaffairs.gov/as-ia/opa/national-native-american-heritage-month

Want to purchase Native American History gear to show your support and pride? Shop here:  https://ndcstore.org/collections/indigenous-heritage-month

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