Honoring Native American Heritage Month

November 1, 2023 – Native American Heritage Month recognizes the traditions, history, languages, stories, and invaluable contributions of Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and affiliated Island communities. The federal designation was created in 1990 through a presidential proclamation and has since been recognized every November. Find resources below to learn more about the experience of Native American tribes and nations.


  • “There, There” by Tommy Orange
  • “Reclaiming Two-Spirits” by Gregory D. Smithers
  • “Night of the Living Rez” by Morgan Talty


  • Reservation Dogs (2021)
  • The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open (2019)
  • Unspoken: America’s Native American Boarding Schools (2016)


  • “Well for Culture” (podcast)
  • “Native America Calling” (podcast)
  • “Nomadcast” (podcast)


Recognizing and paying tribute to Native Americans involves considering ways to foster inclusivity both in the workplace and in daily routines. IllumiNative highlights frequently used phrases that may harm Native peoples and should be avoided.

  • “Low man/person on the totem pole” – Totem poles have spiritual significance in Native culture. The phrase minimizes its significance and is considered disrespectful out of context.
  • “Circle the wagon” – The phrase is rooted in Western expansion and the colonization of Native lands.
  • “Off the reservation” – References the forcible removal of Native people from their lands to reservations.
  • “Savage” – A word used by Western colonizers stereotyping Native peoples as violent.
  • “Spirit animal” – A phrase that reinforces stereotypes of Native peoples and incorrect spiritual beliefs.
  • “PowWow” – A term often used to describe meetings but is considered to be an offensive appropriation of a term of great cultural importance to Indigenous Americans.
  • “Tribe” – Promotes misleading stereotypes and carries misleading historical and cultural assumptions, erasing the significance of Tribal sovereignty, identity, and people.