Native American Heritage month arrives early in Alabama

Each year the president of the United States declares November as Native American Heritage Month. As President Barack Obama stated in his 2009 proclamation:

“The indigenous peoples of North America—the first Americans—have woven rich and diverse threads into the tapestry of our nation’s heritage. Throughout their long history on this great land, they have faced moments of profound triumph and tragedy alike. During National Native American Heritage Month, we recognize their many accomplishments, contributions, and sacrifices, and we pay tribute to their participation in all aspects of American society.”

In Alabama, however, it appears that most of the activities to mark our Native American heritage will take place this year in October, including two AHF-funded humanities programs and the largest Native American festival in the state.

On Wednesday, October 6, the University of West Alabama will mark the 180th anniversary of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. James Carson, professor of history at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and an expert on the Choctaw Indians, will deliver a lecture on the treaty at the Bell Conference Center at 6:00 p.m. Signed in 1830 in what is now Noxubee County, Mississippi, by three Choctaw chiefs and a representative of President Andrew Jackson, the treaty provided for the tribe’s surrender of all 11 million acres of Choctaw lands east of the Mississippi River. Then, 15,000 Choctaws left for the Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma. Today the MOWA Band in north Mobile County and south Washington County remains as the only distinctive Choctaw group in Alabama.

On Sunday, October 24, Aldridge Gardens in Hoover will present a family-oriented program entitled “Digging into Alabama’s History: Native People, Places and Plants.” Scheduled for 1:00- 5:00 p.m. throughout the gardens, the program features workshops for adults and children on Southeastern Indians. These include, among others, “Hunting, Fishing and Ancient Weaponry of Native Americans,” “Medicinal and Traditional Plants, and “Folklife of Native Americans of Alabama.” The gardens is presenting the workshops in partnership with Moundville Archaeological Park.

Moundville will host the large Moundville Native American Festival, and showcase its impressively renovated Jones Archaeological Museum, on October 6-9. For more information, click here.

And if you’d like more information on Native American programs and celebrations around the country in November—including programs funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities—visit the Native American Heritage Month website.