City Cast editor Natalia Aldana wrote this article, which was originally published in Hey DC, and was adapted to Boise by Blake Hunter and Adrian González.
November was officially designated as a heritage month to recognize America’s original inhabitants and celebrate their rich culture and contributions in 1990, then referred to as National American Indian Heritage Month. But efforts to pay tribute to Indigenous people started long before.
Red Fox James, a member of the Blackfeet Nation, rode horseback across the U.S. seeking approval for a day to honor Native Americans and presented an endorsement from 24 states to the White House in 1915. The first official American Indian Day was declared by the New York state governor in May 1916.
This year’s theme is “Celebrating Tribal Sovereignty and Identity.” There are 574 federally recognized nations, tribes, and pueblos within the U.S. comprising over 3.7 million people. Self-governance is at the heart of Native people’s ability to protect and enhance the health, safety, and welfare of their communities.
How to Pay Tribute in Boise
There aren’t many public events you can go to for Native American Heritage Month in Boise, but there are many ways to honor the peoples indigenous to this land.
Throughout November, financial donations to the nonprofit organization Indigenous Idaho Alliance (IIA) can get you some perks: a Zoom happy hour, a roast, a shirt, and more.
The IIA engages Indigenous communities and those who want to support them across the state, distributing goods and services, protecting abortion rights for anyone who needs them, and working to end the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People (MMIWP).
In Idaho, Indigenous people, and particularly women, go missing at almost twice the rate of all other people, a trend across the U.S. and Canada.
Visit Idaho put together profiles of three artists, from the Shoshone-Paiute, Shoshone-Bannock, and Coeur d’Alene Tribes. Their work, from beading to painting to music, engages the audience with stewardship and their people’s histories, present, and futures.
This new documentary shows the work of the Nimiipuu to maintain their millennia-long promise to protect and honor salmon. The film is wrapping up a months-long tour (quick trip to Eugene, Ore., or Roslyn, Wash., anyone?), but can be viewed online through PBS.
Shoutout to Idaho Capital Sun reporter Mia Maldonado for writing about this back in August, which was the first I’d heard about it. And listen to her break down a more recent project to preserve salmon a couple of weeks ago.