Native American Heritage Month, also commonly referred to as American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month, is celebrated each November to honor the rich history and diverse cultures of Native Americans. This month raises awareness about the invaluable contributions and tribal traditions of Indigenous people, as well as the unique challenges faced by these groups historically and now. Native American speakers advocate for their communities every day in different ways. Addressing a wide range of topics including environmental and climate change activism, Native American history and cultural traditions, and Indigenous community advocacy, these speakers employ unique storytelling techniques to engage and educate their audiences.
Check out some of the top Native American Heritage speakers and their crucial work in activism for their communities.
Executive Director of Honor the Earth
As Executive Director of Honor the Earth, Winona LaDuke works nationally and internationally on the issues of climate change, renewable energy, and environmental justice with Indigenous communities. She also lives and works on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota, where she is the founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, one of the largest reservation-based non-profit organizations in the country. Here, she acts as a leader on the issues of culturally based sustainable development strategies, renewable energy and food systems. In this work, she also continues national and international work to protect Indigenous plants and heritage foods from patenting and genetic engineering.
Native American Speaker, Actor & Comedian
Tatanka Means is the son of Russell Means, an influential member of the American Indian Movement in the 60s and 70s, and follows in his father’s footsteps as an advocate for equality and advancement for Native Americans. Through his creative work as an actor in several films including Into the West and Sedona, and as a nationally touring comedian, he advocates for more Indigenous visibility and voices in the entertainment space.
Indiginous Climate Change Activist & Hip-Hop Artist
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, also known as X, has advocated on behalf of Native American Youth and Indigenous Rights from a young age. Appearing on the frontlines of the climate and environmental movement, he has spoken in front of the UN and has been featured in a variety of publications on the topic of the nexus of climate change and Indigenous cultures. More recently, he has taken his passions to the hip-hop scene, looking to redefine what hip-hop can look and sound like. His lyrics are anchored by the Indigenous roots of his father’s lineage and the social justice work of his mother.
Co-Founder of Running Strong for American Indian Youth
As the only American to have ever won the Olympic gold medal in the 10,000-meter run and the second Native American to win an Olympic gold medal, Mills is a powerful force in advocating Indiginous representation in sports. He co-founded Running Strong for American Indian Youth to help Native American people meet their immediate survival needs such as food, water, and shelter while implementing and supporting programs designed to create opportunities for self-sufficiency and self-esteem. His work originally started on the Pine Ridge and Cheyenne River Indian Reservations in South Dakota, but has since expanded to help serve Native American people both on and off reservations throughout the United States.
Native American Author & Storyteller
Gyasi Ross is an author, speaker, and storyteller. Ross comes from the Blackfeet Nation and resides on the Port Madison Indian Reservation near Seattle. He has written books on his life as an Indiginous person, and his input is often sought after in politics, sports, pop culture, and the intersections thereof with Native life. His storytelling focuses on race, social justice, and white privilege as well as issues specifically affecting contemporary Native Americans.
Canadian Aboriginal Entertainer
Dallas Arcand Jr. is an accomplished second-generation hoop dancer and aboriginal entertainer from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. As a self-taught musician playing flute, guitar, piano, and drums, his performances embody impressive music compositions taken from the Native American tradition. Along with his musical performances and hoop dancing, he includes motivational speaking that depicts the philosophies and concepts of Native culture. His performances are unique and authentic, providing cultural entertainment as well as offering education on Native American history.
Native American Speaker, Christian Writer & Worship Leader
Kaitlin Curtice is a Native American Christian author and speaker. As an enrolled member of the Potawatomi Citizen Band and someone who has grown up in the Christian faith, Curtice writes on the intersection of Indigenous spirituality, faith in everyday life, and the church. Her work brings a new perspective to the Christian faith, as she tours the country speaking on faith and justice within the church as it relates to Indigenous peoples.
These Native American Heritage Speakers and Indigenous Peoples Advocates all have different perspectives to share with your audience this November and beyond. The invaluable contributions of Native Americans to the United States today is unmistakable. Raising the voices of these speakers will help to educate your audience on the history and present-day lives of Native Americans and inspire your audience to advocate for greater equality, visibility, and representation for Indigenous communities throughout the nation.
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