Native American Heritage Month
Origins of Native American Heritage Month | History of Native Peoples in Washington, D.C. | Events and Self Guided Activities | Recommended Reads | Streaming Movies and Shows | Streaming Music | Research Tools
The DC Public Library proudly celebrates Native American Heritage Month this November by sharing resources to read, watch, listen to and learn from that honor and pay tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans.
Native American Heritage Month has been declared each year since 1994 but the origins of the month date back to 1915 when Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, who was the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, N.Y persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the “First Americans.” This movement grew as the Congress of the American Indian Association declared an “American Indian Day” and several states joined in, declaring their own day. In 1990 the first Native American Heritage Month was declared and it became an annual celebration in 1994. Learn more about Native American Heritage Month.
The DMV region was home to several Native Tribes, including the Nacotchtank, also known as the Anacostians who lived right in Washington, D.C. The Anacostans is a Latin version of their original name. It is derived from the native word “anaquashatanik” which is translated as “a town of traders.” With the convergence of the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers, the area served as a trading hub with other tribes in the Chesapeake area and up and down the Eastern seaboard.
The D.C. area had a wealth of natural resources. The river provided food, water and irrigation for farming crops like corn, beans and squash. The land also provided rich hunting ground populated with turkey, deer, bison and more. We know from early maps and archaeological digs that members of the Nacotchtank tribe lived and worked in villages along the river, on Capitol Hill, by the site of the White House, near Georgetown and in the Piney Branch area. Like many other tribes on the East Coast, they lived in wigwams or longhouses. The DC Native History Project created an interactive map where you can see where artifacts have been found throughout the city.
As European explorers and settlers came into the area, disease, violence and the seizing of land led to the death and displacement of many native people in the area. After just 40 years of contact with Europeans, only one-quarter of the tribe remained. Those members largely joined and assimilated into other tribes in the region and today there are no living members of the Nacotchtank tribe.
There are more than a dozen tribes in the D.C. and Chesapeake region. To learn more about local tribes near D.C. you can visit these resources:
- Piscataway Conoy Tribe
- Pamunkey Indian Tribe
- Patawomeck Indian Tribe
- Nanticoke Indian Association
- The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape
- Monacan Indian Nation
- Rappahannock Tribe
- Mattaponi Nation
|StoryWalk: The First Strawberries
Enjoy this Cherokee legend on how strawberries came to be as you stroll along our windows on Wisconsin Ave. After, pick up a More to the Story activity packet inside.
|Draw My World
Join us for a special program for Native American Heritage Month! In this program we will recreate Native American portraits. Learn new techniques & create something unique! Don't Forget to bring a friend!
|Wednesday, Nov. 9, 4 p.m.
Capitol View Library
|Read and Craft: Code Talkers
Celebrate Native American Heritage Month and learn about secret codes and how to make and decode them, including: the "unbreakable" Navajo code, the cipher wheel, and the pigpen cipher.
|Thursday, Nov. 10, 3 p.m.
Shaw/Watha T. Daniel Library
|Mt. Pleasant Reads: The Only Good Indians
In honor of Native American Heritage Month, we'll be reading Stephen Graham Jones' tale of horror and revenge, "The Only Good Indians."
|Wednesday, Nov. 16, 7 p.m.
Mt. Pleasant Library
|Learn About Indigenous Peoples
Join us in celebrating Native American Heritage Month by learning about the First Nations Peoples who have always lived here!
|Saturday, Nov. 26, 11 a.m.
Mt. Pleasant Library
|Calendars and Clocks Book Club: When Two Feathers Fell From the Sky
Join us in November for the second meeting of the Calendars and Clocks Book Club. We will be reading When Two Feathers Fell From the Sky by Margaret Verble
|Monday, Nov. 28, 6 p.m.
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library
Fiction Books for Adults
Nonfiction Books for Adults
eBooks and Audiobooks for All Ages
- Visit our OverDrive collection celebrating Native American Heritage Month and download your next read.
- Want to try delicious recipes? Check out this list of great cookbooks.
- This playlist from Freegal is called Spirit Song. Listen here.
- American Indian Music in Music Online: Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries. Listen here.
Enrich your understanding of Native American Heritage Month with the Library's digital resources.
|Ethnic News Watch
Access full issues of Native American publications from The Native Voice, The Circle: News from an American Indian Perspective, Navajo Times and more.
|National Geographic Virtual Library
Read full-text articles and books, watch videos and view images, including the title Native Universe: Voices of Indian America and others.
List of authors & their books where the author’s cultural identity is Native American
|Very Short Introductions
Check out titles exploring Native American History and Literature with these intelligent and serious introductions written by authors who are experts in their field.