HONOLULU (KHON2) — “Despite centuries of violence and oppression, Native peoples remain resilient and proud,” reads President Joe Biden’s Proclamation for Native American Heritage Month.
November is Native American Heritage Month in the United States.
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From the farthest reaches of the U.S. eastern seaboard to the outer reaches of the Hawaiʻi archipelago, indigenous peoples were heavily impacted by colonization between 1492 and today.
The Taino peoples of the Caribbean were the first to make modern contact with Europeans when Christopher Columbus got lost looking for India.
In the southern United States, the French and the Spanish came in and pushed themselves westward. In the Pacific, the British and the Spanish came knocking on the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi’s door. But it was U.S. industrialists who overthrew the sovereign Kingdom and its hereditary ruler that implemented modern colonization to Hawaiʻi.
The official site for Native American Heritage Month has a great deal of information on activities and Native peoples who are spotlighted for their contributions to keeping Native customs and traditions alive.
The Department of the Interior Indian Affairs has declared the 2023 NAHM to be a month of celebrating and reinforcing tribal sovereignty and identity. This means that decisions about Native Americans and Native American lands — as designated by treaties after the original lands were stolen — need to in the hands and with the consent of Native Americans.
In Hawaiʻi, kānaka maoli are Native Americans; but there is also a large contingency of Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island (North America) who are also out here due to migration as well as the military.
Pres. Biden’s Proclamation states, “Today, Native Americans are essential to the fabric of the United States. They serve in the United States Armed Forces at higher rates than any other ethnic group.”
The Council for Native Hawaiian Affairs has moved the 22nd Annual Native Hawaiian Convention to Maui. This is a time for kānaka maoli to recenter their focus and to continue developing the sovereignty and identity of Hawaiʻi’s indigenous peoples.
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So, as you go through the month, remember that the United States has a good deal of baggage when it comes to the Native Peoples’ of this land. And as you celebrate Thanksgiving, don’t forget that the foundation of the celebration is based on the kindness and generosity of Native Peoples.