by Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of the Interior Indian Affairs

The Sweetwater Union High School District adopted a resolution designating November 2021 as National Native American Heritage Month. Through this effort the district recognizes Native American heritage, culture, traditions and contributions of district and community members. 

The History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools organization supports the recognition of different ethnic groups through incorporating a multicultural perspective in the curriculum. According to this organization each student needs an opportunity to understand the common humanity underlying all people. They also urge educational leaders statewide to involve students in appropriate lessons and meaningful instructional activities and programs during this special month to commemorate National Native American Heritage Month. 

“American culture has been greatly influenced by traditions of Native Americans” the district wrote in the resolution. “The contributions of  Native Americans to this nation’s government, history and culture as tribes themselves; and every tribe has celebrated heroes of their own in sports, the arts, film, literature, engineering, medicine, education, and environmental science.”

This country was home to generations of Native Peoples long before the arrival of European explorers. Each of the tribes has a unique and vibrant culture and system of social order. 

Educators are encouraged by the district to involve themselves and their schools in a statewide focus on improving education about National Native American Heritage in an effort to create paths of participation to aid California’s schools to meet the national goals set forth by the White House Conference on Indian Education.

This year, the first ever presidential proclamation declaring Oct.11 as Indiginous People’s Day was issued by President Joe Biden to refocus a federal holiday historically dedicated to Christopher Columbus, requiring an act of congress. Meanwhile, this observation will be celebrated alongside Columbus Day, which is established by congress. 

Biden addresses the injustices against indigenous peoples within his proclamation as “it is a measure of our greatness as a Nation that we do not seek to bury these shameful episodes of our past ''. 

Native Americans were honored for their commitment to the U.S Military and in fighting COVID-19 in the proclamation. Additionally, it recognized U.S injustices against Indigenous communities. 

“For generations, federal policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures,” Biden wrote in the Indigenous Peoples’ Day proclamation. “Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples’ resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society.”

The City of Chula Vista made similar strides in the recognition of Native Americans by approving a resolution to appoint 11 members in a task force for the removal and disposal of the Christopher Columbus statue which was housed at Discovery Park for more than 30 years. 

The fate of the Columbus statue was determined in May by City Council after more than 3 hours of deliberation with a 4 to 1 vote approving it’s permanent removal. The only dissenting vote was from Deputy Mayor John McCann. 

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