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7+ Ways to Commemorate Native American Heritage Day 2023

7+ Ways to Commemorate Native American Heritage Day 2023

Discover Native American Heritage Day activities for workplace fun and learning!  Native American Heritage Day 2023 is Friday, November 24, 2023. Is your team ready to celebrate?

In this guide, you’ll find seven ways for your team to learn about Native American heritage, history, and their future – all while bonding and connecting with your team. This November, reflect upon and celebrate the Native American cultures that have shaped our society.

Read on to see how you can support Native American communities, promote cultural awareness, and build diverse workplace values this Native American Heritage Day.

Keep reading for more details on these Native American Heritage Day activities, and more ideas!

  • Recognize what land you are on
  • Participate in Native American cultural events
  • Explore Native American cuisine
  • Read and share Native American literature
  • Engage with Native American communities

In this post, you’ll find:

  • Native American Heritage Day activities for 2023
  • Creative team building ideas for National Native American Heritage Day
  • Learn the answer to the question, “What is Native American Heritage Day?”
  • Ideas on how to celebrate Native American Heritage Day at work
  • Native American Heritage Day history

What is Native American Heritage Month?

Native American

Native American Heritage Month was originally established as a week-long observance. Over time, it has evolved into a month-long celebration dedicated to honoring all Native American peoples. It was first proposed by Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian in the early 20th century. However, it wasn’t until 1990 that is was put into law that November is National American Indian Heritage Month.

During Native American Heritage Month, a wide array of activities unfold to celebrate indigenous cultures. Educational events, museum exhibits, film screenings, and cultural festivals around the U.S. showcase traditional music, dance, and art. On a local level, Native American communities host storytelling sessions, language workshops, and community feasts.

Furthermore, businesses often participate by featuring Native American-owned products, supporting indigenous artisans, or organizing awareness campaigns. Schools take the opportunity to teach students about Native American history and culture. Governments and non-profit organizations, too, organize events and educational programs. This collective effort helps amplify the significance of Native American Heritage and allows people to immerse themselves in indigenous traditions.

The Connection Between Native American Heritage Month and Day

Each year, Native American Heritage Day is celebrated on the day after Thanksgiving. The day provides a concentrated moment to honor and recognize the contributions of indigenous peoples, though it is part of the broader context of the month-long celebration of Native American Heritage Month. 

This day is particularly significant because it follows a holiday with historically negative ties to Native American interactions with early European settlers. Businesses can use this day to host special events, workshops, or cultural showcases. Additionally, this can be a meaningful time for collaborating with indigenous artists and entrepreneurs and engaging in philanthropic efforts to support Native American communities.

By doing so, businesses can use this day as a culmination of a month-long series of activities or initiatives dedicated to celebrating and honoring Native American heritage.

Why We Need to Recognize Native American Heritage

Native American on Flag

Throughout U.S. history, Native Americans have provided critical contributions. Indigenous peoples have been part of shaping our early culture and civilization to impacting today’s society. Contributions span from agriculture, infrastructure, environmental stewardship, and more.

Spreading awareness about Native American heritage and history is paramount, especially in a context where many school systems have historically neglected this vital part of our nation’s story. The consequences of this have led to the perpetuation of harmful stereotypes and historical inaccuracies. Plus, the underrepresentation of Native Americans in various aspects of society, including media and politics. 

This lack of awareness also hinders Native Americans’ rightful place in discussions on policy, culture, environmental issues, and representation. By rectifying this educational gap, we can work toward a more equitable and inclusive society – one where the richness of indigenous cultures and contributions is acknowledged and celebrated.

How to Celebrate Native American Heritage Month in 2023

1. Recognize What Native Land You Are On

Acknowledging the traditional Native American lands we live on or visit is a fundamental act of respect and recognition for the original stewards of the land. A land acknowledgment is a formal statement that acknowledges indigenous peoples and their enduring connection to the land on which a gathering takes place. It serves as a reminder of the historical and ongoing presence of Native American communities and their contributions to the area.

Importantly, land acknowledgments emphasize the importance of addressing past injustices and promoting reconciliation. By practicing land acknowledgments, we honor the rich cultural heritage and resilience of indigenous peoples while fostering a deeper understanding of the historical and contemporary issues they face.

Learn what native land you’re on today by visiting native-land.ca.

2. Participate in Native American Cultural Events

Native American Crafts

Participating in cultural events offers a direct and engaging way to commemorate Native American Heritage Day. These events allow workplace teams to immerse themselves in indigenous cultures, fostering a deeper appreciation for their traditions and contributions.

Attend traditional dances, where the rhythmic beat of drums and intricate regalia showcase indigenous dance forms. Or, enjoy museum exhibits or ceremonies dedicated to indigenous communities. Another idea: join festivals featuring indigenous cuisine, arts, and crafts to appreciate the contributions of Native Americans.

3. Explore Native American Cuisine

Native American cuisine spans a range of unique and rich flavors from tribes across North America. Explore dishes from the succulent smoked salmon and camas bulbs of the Pacific Northwest tribes to the hearty buffalo stews and fry bread of the Plains tribes. Or, try Navajo tacos, made with fluffy fry bread, and the Three Sisters (corn, beans, and squash) stew of the Southwest.

To savor these unique flavors, seek out Native American-owned restaurants or food festivals that showcase indigenous dishes. Alternatively, exploring traditional recipes and cooking Native American cuisine at home can be a rewarding and educational experience.

Find more Native American food resources and webinars here, from the First Nations Development Institute.

4. Read Native American Literature

Person Reading

Reading literature by Native American authors is another powerful way to gain insight into indigenous cultures. By delving into these works, workplace teams can broaden their horizons and appreciate the depth and diversity of Native American literary contributions.

Whether you’re a fan of historical nonfiction, graphic novels, or poetry, there is a Native American-authored book for you! To get started, explore Penguin Random House’s list of Must-Read Books by Indigenous Authors or find a book from an Indigenous-owned publisher.

5. Listen to Native American Podcasts

Another idea: tap into podcasts focusing on Native American culture, history, and contemporary issues. Podcasts are unique in their ability to create an engaging and immersive learning experience. Listeners from any location can hear directly from indigenous leaders, scholars, artists, and community members.

A few Indigenous-led podcasts to get your team started:

  • All My Relations. Hosted by Matika Wilbur, from the Swinomish and Tulalip peoples of coastal Washington, and Adrienne Keene, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, the two explore what it means to be a modern Native individual.
  • The Red Nation Podcast. The series focuses on a range of Indigenous topics, from history to politics and culture.
  • Toasted Sister Podcast. This podcast follows the culinary journey of Andi Murphy, a Navajo journalist, as she finds her roots and makes waves in the Native American Food Movement.
  • Coffee With My Ma. This series documents the passing of stories between host Kaniehtiio Horn and her mother, activist Kahentinetha Horn, who shares stories of her very long adventurous life with humor and wisdom.

6. Support Native American Art and Artists


Native American art is a powerful means of preserving culture and storytelling. Purchasing or promoting these artworks directly supports indigenous communities. By providing income to Native American artisans and their families, businesses can help sustain these cultural traditions.

To show support, consider purchasing art directly from Native American artists or artisans. Look to art fairs, markets, or online platforms showcasing their work. In addition, teams can attend local exhibitions featuring Native American art at museums, galleries, and cultural centers.

7. Engage with Native American Communities

Direct engagement, with respect and permission, is a profound way to deepen one’s understanding of Native American cultures and contribute positively to indigenous communities. It allows for immersive educational experiences and cultural exchange.

Explore ways to volunteer within your local Native American communities. Projects can focus on language revitalization programs, environmental initiatives, or community development projects.

In addition, visit tribal lands to respectfully connect with your natural landscapes and its traditions. By engaging directly, teams can break down barriers, dispel misconceptions, and build meaningful relationships that promote cultural awareness.

For an easy way to dive in, check out this guide to indigenous-owned businesses. You’ll find plenty of ideas for holiday gifts, recognizing employee milestones, or as a treat for yourself!

Tips for Respectful and Mindful Engagement

Tips for Respectful and Mindful Engagement Native American Heritage Day

Cultural appropriation refers to the act of borrowing or adopting elements of one culture by individuals or groups from another culture, often without proper understanding, respect, credit, or permission. This phenomenon becomes harmful when it perpetuates stereotypes, disrespects sacred traditions, and commodifies cultural practices.

To appreciate Native American culture without crossing the line into appropriation, it is crucial to educate ourselves about the culture’s history, traditions, and significance. Engage respectfully with Indigenous communities, seeking permission when necessary. For instance, avoid wearing attire that makes a costume out of traditional garb; many garments, such as headdresses, hold incredible meaning and reverence within Native American cultures. Ultimately, the key is to approach cultural exchange with empathy and humility.

To help ensure respectful engagement, we can educate ourselves about the specific customs and protocols of the tribe or community being visited. Respect tribal laws and always follow the guidance of local hosts. Furthermore, it’s essential to request prior consent before taking photographs or videos. Plus, avoid any disruptive or disrespectful behavior during ceremonies or events.

Turn Commemoration into Everyday Appreciation

In summary, commemorating Native American Heritage Day is a fantastic DEI activity for workplace teams. Whether via books, community events, or even cuisine, there are many ways companies can encourage everyone to respectfully engage in honoring Native American heritage. All the while, you’ll promote cultural awareness and the importance of diversity amongst your workplace. Start planning your day after Thanksgiving with Native American Heritage Day activities today!

For more ways to celebrate Native American Heritage Day and other DEI holidays, browse our blog posts diving into Thanksgiving at work, AAPI History Month, and a DEI team building calendar!

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