November is Native American Heritage Month

Native American Heritage Month

About Native American Heritage Month

Via, "What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S., has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose.

One of the very proponents of an American Indian Day was Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, who was the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, N.Y. He persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the “First Americans” and for three years they adopted such a day. In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association meeting in Lawrence, Kans., formally approved a plan concerning American Indian Day. It directed its president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe, to call upon the country to observe such a day. Coolidge issued a proclamation on Sept. 28, 1915, which declared the second Saturday of each May as an American Indian Day and contained the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens.

The year before this proclamation was issued, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. On December 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House. There is no record, however, of such a national day being proclaimed.

The first American Indian Day in a state was declared on the second Saturday in May 1916 by the governor of New York. Several states celebrate the fourth Friday in September. In Illinois, for example, legislators enacted such a day in 1919. Presently, several states have designated Columbus Day as Native American Day, but it continues to be a day we observe without any recognition as a national legal holiday.

In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994."

UMass Josephine White Cultural Center (JWECC) 

Josephine White Eagle Cultural Center is named in honor of Dr. Josephine White Eagle for her involvement in advocacy and mentorship of Native students on campus and someone who was involved in the early developments of a culture center for Native students. Its first home was in Knowlton Residence Hall and in 1993 was relocated to Chadbourne Residence Hall. 

Adapted from History of the Josephine White Eagle Cultural Center by Paul Oberheim, Cultural Center Fellow, spring 2018.

Parking available in Lot 49 after 5:00 p.m. Transportation Services offers additional information for parking on campus.

To access the center please call (413) 545-4932 to ask a staff to meet you at the main entrance of Chadbourne Hall and open the door for you. During the hours of 8:00 - 9:00 p.m., you will be asked to sign in and show identification at the security desk and confirm a visit to the center, and to sign out before leaving the building. 
For additional information visitors are encouraged to review the Security and Safety Guidelines for Residential Hall Access.

Hours of Operation:
3:00-10:00pm, Monday-Thursday

Contact Information:
Chadbourne Hall, Basement
Phone Number:  413-545-4932

The UMass Josephine White Cultural Center invites those of Native/Indigenous heritage to share your culture, traditions, music, crafts, dance, and ways and concepts of life. Please send your photos and videos by emailing, tagging/messaging JWECC on Instagram at umass_jwecc, or messaging them on Facebook.

JWECC Events

Heritage Talk
Thursday, November 2 | 6:00-8:00pm
JWECC, Chadbourne Hall, B-3

Are there times when you feel like a little detached or disconnected from someone or something or simply feeling alone?  Come to the JWECC and let us discuss feelings of disconnect from your roots or connect with who you are over coffee and sweets.

Beading Workshop @ JWECC
November 1, 15, and 29 | 6:00-8:00pm
Josephine White Eagle Cultural Center
Chadbourne Hall B-3

Come out and learn different beading techniques with UMass Native American Alumni Angelina LaRotonda.  Angie is a skilled beader who travels the powwow trail selling her beadwork.  We are excited to have her back and share part of her culture with our current students. All are welcome!

Moccasins Workshop
Thursday, November 10 | 4:00-8:00pm
Chadbourne Hall B-3

Learn how to create your own pair of moccasins to wear on Rock Your Mocks Day on November 15. No experience required.  Guided instruction provided.  Space is limited so register to join here:
Refreshments provided.

Native American Sovereignty via Tribal Stories and Drumming
Thursday, November 17 | 5:00-7:00pm
Fine Arts Atrium

Larry Spotted Crow Mann is a nationally acclaimed author and citizen of the Nipmuc Tribe of Massachusetts. He is an award-winning writer, poet, cultural educator, traditional storyteller, and tribal musician centered around the intersection of cultural and environmental awareness, spirituality, and youth sobriety in the Indigenous community.  Mann is co-director of the Ohketeau Cultural Center, an organization that allows for the opportunity for interdisciplinary education through cultural workshops, dance, music, and art.  Mann also serves as a Review Committee Member for the Native American Poets Project at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology at Harvard University

UMass Policies and Resources

UMass Native Advisory Council

The UMass Native Advisory Council regularly convenes to address topics related to the Native community at UMass, provide education and guidance on Native issues, foster mutual relationships with area Native Nations, and advise university leaders on matters related to positive campus climate for Native students, faculty, and staff. Comprised of a circle of campus administrators, faculty, staff, and students, the Council represents a braided network of over thirteen different programs, departments, and resources.

UMass Land Acknowledgement

In a consultative and deeply collaborative process with respected advisors from local Tribal Nations, the UMass Native Advisory Council co-developed this campus Land Acknowledgement. This Acknowledgement affirms our campus connection and relationship to the land the campus is built upon and our continued connection to the Nations who were the original inhabitants and caretakers of this land. The Land Acknowledgement also affirms our connection and responsibility to the 82 Native nations west of the Mississippi whose homelands were sold through the Morrill Act of 1862. The money from these sales were used to establish this campus as a land-grant institution. The Land Acknowledgement is part of a broader effort of building and sustaining relationships and partnerships with the Native Nations to whom we, as a university community, are connected. 

UMass Smudging Policy

Smudging is a practice common among Native and Indigenous communities that links smoke with spirituality. The tradition involves the burning of one or more botanicals—or medicines—gathered from the earth. Typically, tobacco, sage, cedar, and sweetgrass are considered the Four Sacred Medicines used in smudging. Read more about smudging.

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Sara Littlecrow Russell and Jeff Hescock discuss the updated smudging policy at UMass. Smudging is traditionally a ceremony for purifying or cleansing the soul of negative thoughts of a person or place practiced by many Indigenous tribes. Through the collaboration of the Native Advisory Council and the Public Health Promotion Center, UMass Amherst has adopted one of the most inclusive policies around smudging on a university campus. Listen to the audio podcast here or watch the captioned video podcast here.

Additional Events & Resources

Rock Your Mocs

November 13th – 19th. Established 2011, Rock Your Mocs, is best described as a worldwide Native American & Indigenous Peoples virtual unity event held annually and during November National Native American Heritage Month in the U.S.A. During the Rock Your Mocs, people wear their moccasins, take a photo, create a video or story, add the hashtag #ROCKYOURMOCS and upload to social media.

22 Indigenous-Led Organizations Working Toward Social Justice

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, FoodCorps is highlighting 22 Indigenous-led community organizations and programs that they partner with. These organizations support justice and equity through engaging with young people, promoting the health and wellbeing of local communities and the environment, and countless other ways. 

Teacher's Guide: American Indian History and Heritage

This Teacher's Guide from the National Endowment for the Humanities will introduce you to the cultures and explore the histories of some groups within the over 5 million people who identify as American Indian in the United States, with resources designed for integration across humanities curricula and classrooms throughout the school year.