Native American Heritage Month is an annual celebration in November that recognizes and celebrates the first Americans and their rich histories, diverse cultures, and invaluable contributions. There are 574 federally recognized tribal nations in the United States. Despite their ethnic, cultural, and linguistic differences, tribal nations share common challenges to the protection of their rights as distinct peoples. They have struggled for recognition of their identities, ways of life, rights to heritage/cultural sites, and natural resources, which throughout history have been violated.
For generations, federal policies systematically sought to assimilate, displace, and eradicate American Indians and their cultures. They continue their struggles to maintain their tribal sovereignty, without which they would not have federally recognized claims to their heritage sites or cultural practices and thereby, diminishing their identities or cultures. While American Indians have had a painful history marked by unjust federal policies, for more than 200 years, American Indians have served in the U.S. military in every major conflict. Historically, they have the highest record of military service per capita than any other ethnic population and continue to serve in the United States military at a rate that is five times the national average.
In 1976, Jerry C. Elliott High Eagle, a physicist and one of the first American Indians to work at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), authored the congressional legislation for Native American Awareness Week. The legislation passed and was signed into law by U.S. President Gerald R. Ford, becoming the first official week of national recognition for American Indians since the founding of the nation. On Aug. 3, 1990, U.S. President George H. W. Bush declared the month of November as National American Indian Heritage Month, also known as Native American Heritage Month.
Adams County School District 14 (Adams 14) recognizes that the district is built upon the homelands of American Indians, specifically the Arapaho and Ute Nations, who have inhabited these lands since time immemorial. Adams 14 understands that the recognition and celebration of Native American Heritage Month is a critical part of its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The month recognizes American Indians and their resilience and contributions to American society throughout history, even as they faced assimilation, discrimination, and genocide.