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FASEB Celebrates National Native American Heritage Month

By: France-Elvie Banda
Thursday, November 10, 2022
FASEB celebrates the contributions of Native Americans in the biological and biomedical sciences year-round and during National Native American Heritage Month in November. National Native American Heritage Month recognizes the rich diversity of the American Indian and Alaska Native cultures that have made a lasting impact on the United States. 

Prior to U.S. government proclamations, as far back as 1915, Indigenous leaders like RedFox James from the Blackfoot Confederacy traveled from state to state garnering support for a day honoring Indigenous people. New York was the first state to celebrate an American Indian Day in May 1916. 

With rising interest in social justice, Indigenous advocacy has become more mainstream. Practices like land acknowledgement statements and sites like Native Land Digital have become common in certain academic and corporate spaces. These traditional indigenous practices show respect to the original inhabitants of the land and serve as a reminder of indigenous sovereignty and the ongoing process of colonialism. 

#LandBack is a global movement that intersects Indigenous sovereignty, restorative justice, and environmental protection. Through the LandBack campaigns in South Africa and North America, Indigenous communities have pushed to redress the historic economic disparities caused by land theft and colonialism. 

Many Indigenous advocates also argue that the LandBack movement is crucial to protecting and restoring the planet’s biodiversity, recognizing that Indigenous communities across the world have long been stewards of the environment. A report from the University of British Columbia analyzing land and species data from Australia, Brazil, and Canada found that biodiversity is highest on Indigenous-managed lands. 

This heritage month provides a focus to celebrate accomplishments of the Native American community and educate the public on continued efforts to improve Indigenous communities cross the Americas and beyond. Visit the Smithsonian D.C. Events pages to explore ways to celebrate Native American Heritage Month.