November is Native American Heritage Month

Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month, recognized by proclamation from President Donald Trump and from Governor Doug Ducey, and honoring the significant contributions of indigenous communities in the United States. Arizona is home to varied and diverse traditions, cultures, languages, and histories of 22 federally recognized tribes. The work of our agency is rooted in a respect for tribal sovereignty and a commitment to working with tribes to develop policies that help to decrease health disparities and increase positive health outcomes for tribal members. As part of this work, AHCCCS Tribal Relations invites you to learn more about this month and the tribal communities that we serve. Additionally, please feel free to participate in the Native American Heritage Month events sponsored by our partners across the state.

What started at the turn of the century as a single day to recognize the significant contributions that the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S. has become a month-long celebration.

One of the proponents of an American Indian Day was Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian and the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, N.Y. He persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the “First Americans” and for three years they adopted such a day. In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association meeting in Lawrence, Kan., formally approved a plan concerning American Indian Day. It directed its president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe Indian, to call upon the United States to observe such a day. The town of Coolidge, Ariz.issued a proclamation on Sept. 28, 1915, which declared the second Saturday of each May as an American Indian Day and contained the first formal appeal to recognize Native Americans as U.S. citizens. 

The year before this proclamation was issued, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. On December 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments to the White House. There is no record, however, of a national American Indian Day ever being proclaimed.

The first American Indian Day in a state was declared on the second Saturday in May 1916 by the governor of New York. Additionally, several states celebrate the fourth Friday in September. In Illinois, for example, legislators enacted an American Indian Day in 1919. Presently, several states have designated Columbus Day as Native American Day or Indigenous Peoples Day, but it continues to be a day we observe without any recognition as a national legal holiday.

In 1990, President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994.

Native American Films
Learn more from these films from PBS featuring Indigenous voices.

Many groups are hosting Native American Heritage Month events in-person and virtually around the state. 

November 2-20
Arizona Statewide Tribal Veterans Symposium

The Arizona Statewide Tribal Veteran Symposium is hosted by Steward Health Choice Arizona/Blue Cross Blue Shield and is a series of virtual presentations. D.J. Eagle Bear Vanas is this year’s keynote.
To register:

Friday, November 6, 9 a.m.—11 a.m.
Culture is Prevention

Sponsored by Arizona Complete Health. Presentation by Micheon Gorman, Prevention Program Manager at Phoenix Indian Center.
To register:

Friday, November 13, 10 a.m.—11 a.m.
Overview of the Native American Advancement Foundation (NAAF) & the Harvard Project

Sponsored by Arizona Complete Health. Presentation by Selina Jesus, program coordinator at NAAF.
To register:

Saturday, November 14, 7 a.m.—10 a.m.
Garden Workday at NATIVE HEALTH Keep Phoenix Beautiful (KPB) Traditional Garden

Every second Saturday of the month is a Garden Work Day at NATIVE HEALTH’s Traditional Garden at KPB Pierson Garden. Participants can help tend the garden, plant, or help pick the vegetable harvest.
Address: 1822 W. Pierson St., Phoenix, AZ 85015
Contact: (602) 279-5262, ext. 3109 

November 16-21, 12:00 p.m.
5K Run/Walk

Run or walk on your own time, any day the week, Nov. 16-21. Participants who complete 5K will receive a NACA cooling towel.
Submit your name, date, time and place run by Saturday, Nov 21, 4:00 pm, by email to the contact below.
Contact: Jordan Mockta,, 928-779-1245, ext. 221

Monday, November 16, 8:30 a.m.
Tsiiyééł Navajo Hair Tying Virtual presentation by Dorothy Denetsosie Gishie

Zoom meeting:
Meeting ID: 955 2149 9458
Passcode: 788107
Offering limited supply of hair ties to the community at Native Americans for Community Action, 2717 N. Steves Blvd., Flagstaff, AZ 86004.

Monday, November 16, 12:00 p.m.
Ready to Run?

Virtual presentation by Wellness Center Staff on Native Americans for Community Action YouTube channel, virtual connection.

Tuesday, November 17, 6 p.m.—7:30 p.m.
Virtual Presentation: “Feed the Body, Nurture the Soul” by Chef Lois, Chef Walter, and Caroline Trapp

An expert chef will lead you on a tour through time to explore the foodways of Native Ancestors, and an expert diabetes nurse practitioner will offer inspiration and resources to begin or continue a journey towards better health and mood.
Zoom meeting:
Meeting ID: 990 1776 0234
Passcode: 372979

November 17, 3 p.m.—4 p.m.
Holistic Healthcare from a Native American Perspective

Sponsored by Arizona Complete Health. Presentation by Dr. Sophina Calderon, deputy chief of staff at Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation.
To register:

November 20, 10 a.m.
Native American Heritage Month Celebration
This Native American Heritage Month Celebration is presented by Health Choice Arizona/Blue Cross Blue Shield.  Christian Takes Gun “Supaman” is the featured presenter.
To register:
Contact: Holly Figueroa,, (928) 214-2169

Saturday, November 21, 8:00 a.m.
Morning Gratitude & Walk/Run at Buffalo Park

Meet at Buffalo Park at 2400 N. Gemini Rd., Flagstaff. Masks and social distancing are required.

November 28, 7 a.m.–10 a.m.
Garden Workday at NATIVE HEALTH Agave Farms Community Garden

Every fourth Saturday of the month is a Garden Work Day at NATIVE HEALTH’s Community Garden at Agave Farms. Participants can help tend the garden, plant, or help pick the vegetable harvest! No reservations necessary.
Address: 4300 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85012


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