Native American Cultural Heritage


Native American Cultural Heritage

Native American heritage first became officially recognized by the United States government in 1986 as “Native American Indian Heritage Week” after Congress passed S.J. Resolution 390. Four years later, the week-long celebration became a national heritage month celebrated in November. Thereafter, the resolution that was previously designated as “National American Indian Heritage Month” or “Native American Indian Month” has since been amended in 2008 to include the celebration of Alaskan Natives, now referred to as “National Native American Heritage Month” as many see it today. (source: United States Senate)

SJSU iSchool EDI Symposium

2022 Events

Celebrating Native American Heritage Month: History, Culture, and Experience

Honoring the Historical and Current Lives of Indigenous People
Tuesday, November 29, 2022 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Pacific Time

Lynette Dial Kim Sellers
Donna Cossette


In honor of Native American Heritage Month 2022, the SJSU iSchool brought together several Indigenous community leaders to have a discussion on the relationships between libraries and Indigenous communities during the online symposium, “Celebrating Native American Heritage Month: History, Culture, and Experience. Honoring the Historical and Current Lives of Indigenous People.” Throughout the presentations and Q&A, the speakers talked about how libraries can better understand Native American communities as it relates to their own personal experiences.

“Don’t rely on somebody else’s expertise. That’s telling your students in the community, ‘I don’t care enough about your culture and your language and your literature to care enough about it to include it. I’m just so busy, and everything else is so important but yours is not.’ If you include those pieces of literature, if you include the space in the curriculum and the time, and especially in the programming, you’re saying this is valuable enough that I’m taking that time.”

– Kim Sellers, Associate Professor at UNC Pembroke

In November 2021, the SJSU iSchool hosted a discussion on how libraries can successfully acknowledge and assist Native Americans while also tackling challenges that community members face through the symposium, “Bridging the Past and Future: Improving Library Services for the Native American Community.” The keynote speakers  and panelists talked about the importance of effectively communicating with Native Americans, breaking down false assumptions about Native Americans, and including Indigenous materials in library collections.

Library and Information Science Best Practices

Best Practices from “Celebrating Native American Heritage Month: History, Culture, and Experience”:

  • Do not just try to understand a community’s perspective, but show that you value them. Research organizations that have already been doing work to uplift Indigenous community members, talk to tribal leaders, or even collaborate with local museums.
  • Remember that valuing and creating space for Native American communities does not solely exist during the time of November.
  • Go out and meet Indigenous people where they are at. Talk to them and understand their needs because you can’t meet their needs if you don’t know their needs.
  • Recognize the difference between “words of truth” and “words of convenience.”
  • Ask yourself: “Are my library’s collections stereotyping Native people? Are certain resources placed in a way that may be inaccessible for the general public to learn about Indigenous communities?”

Best Practices from “Bridging the Past and Future: Improving Library Services for the Native American Community”:

  • Add more Native American items to library collections
  • Library staff need to be more culturally-competent when welcoming Native Americans to the library space.
  • Establish effective educational services that can benefit the Native American community.

Community Profiles

Brandon Castle

Professional Associations

Reading Nation Waterfall


SJSU iSchool Articles:

Chloe Ortega

“I have the opportunity to be around my culture and be at the forefront of the next generation of young Cheyenne’s who are entering leadership positions. Being in this role allows me to interview and record elders as they share personal stories and traditional songs in our Cheyenne language.”

– Chloe Ortega, Cultural Outreach and Ethnographic Media Specialist for Chief Dull Knife College