Respecting the Native American Heritage

With November being Native American Heritage Month, for this week’s blog, we will talk about what the Native American Heritage is and how we can educate ourselves and our teens about it.

Native American Heritage Month Logo

What is heritage?

During Native American Heritage Month, it is important for us to not just celebrate the legacy of the indigenous people but also the impact they are continuing to make on our society today. One of the things I became aware of is that indigenous people are not only American Indians, but also Alaska Natives. There are many tribes of American Indians and Alaska Natives.

What is a heritage? According to the Google online dictionary, heritage is defined as valued objects and qualities such as cultural traditions, unspoiled countryside, and historic buildings that have been passed down from previous generations.

Storytellers about the great battles and cultural traditions that are important to any culture. The Native Americans have many traditions that are important to their culture. Many of them are based on symbols. Here are a couple of examples.


The beating of a drum is seen as a unifying force to bring people from different tribes together. It also is also a way to unify ones spirit to their body and mind.


Symbolism, especially with animals, is often a common part of Native American religion. Animals represent certain ideas, characteristics, and spirits. Some Native American tribes used animals to tell the story of creation. Some creation stories, one by the Tlingit Indians, centered on a raven.

Pow wows

According to a Reader’s Digest article “Native Americans Share The Meaning Behind Their Most Important Traditions and Beliefs” by Sara Alverez Kleinsmith, Pow wows began as a way for nations to come together to celebrate success in hunting or battle. Today, they are an opportunity to share tradition and reconnect to culture and family; dance plays a big role in pow wow ceremonies, as does drum music. 

How has history affected their heritage?

It wasn’t respected. They were here before the white European settlers came and we pushed them into specific places on the continent. Then tried to assimilate them into how we live instead of respecting their heritage.

We needed their help in wars and exploring the world in the westward expansion, but they don’t live as free as they once did. Many of their communities are on reservations, which are lands that are reserved for them. Where these lands are located are determined by treaties with the United States government. Some of them are found in Minnesota. We drive through them when we head up to our cabin and our young adults attended high school near one in the Twin Cities.

I recently watched the movie called, Indian Horse. It is the story about Saul Indianhorse who is taken from his family and relocated to a residential school. These schools were used to assimilate Native American children into the predominately white culture. To strip them of their heritage.

When we were assimilating these children, we were essentially bullying them. The definition of bullying is The use of superior strength or influence to intimidate someone typically to force him or her to do what they want. After how they helped us, it wasn’t the right thing to do in return.

Many Native Americans are still dealing with the effects. Parents who are dealing with what happened to them are trying to protect their children from becoming targets of this kind of bullying in the future. Different people and their cultures need to be respected and accepted and not be bullied into being something they aren’t.

What can we do?

How can we better understand their journey? Accept the fact that this did happen and take the time to understand what it did to the Native American Heritage. Then share what we learn with our teens.

To learn more about Native American Heritage Month

Many organizations are celebrating this month with many different themes. Google Native American Heritage Month and find out how they are doing it.

Check out the website They have many different links to activities that are happening this month to celebrate the Native American Heritage.

Available resources on Mentoring A Dream

Many blog posts are available on our site which talk about diversity and inclusion of those who are different from us. Check out our Blog.

Our quarterly theme is bullying, which we feature on our monthly themed tab on the website Bullying.

If your teen is dealing with a challenge, please check out our Resourses page for a list of organizations and articles that may help.

The Street’s Way is coming soon!

The Street's Way Cover - on bench

Do you know about The Way Series? It is a series of coming of age novels for teens and young adults about the challenges they face. The Street’s Way focuses on the teen challenge of homelessness. The third book in The Way Series, The Street’s Way, is a about Mikala Kalani, a Native American teen from Boston who runs away to Manor City. Learn about how she navigates being homeless and what happens on the streets of Manor City.

Follow this link to my books tab to learn more about the series. The Street’s Way is due to release in early 2024!

Selma’s Books.

Have a great week!

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