NHSA extends our sincere thanks to National Indian Head Start Directors Association’s Intern Kierra Chrisco for writing this blog in honor of National American Indian Heritage Month. The National Indian Head Start Directors Association (NIHSDA) is the leading voice for American Indian and Alaskan Native (AIAN) children in Head Start programs. NIHSDA strives to preserve and respect indigenous identity, while actively providing high-quality advocacy, leadership development, and professional growth opportunities to current and future early care and education leaders.

November is National American Indian Heritage Month. Since transitioning from a single day celebrated by a few to state to a month-long national event, we celebrate the histories, traditions, and cultures that encompasses Native American Peoples and their contributions to the United States.

“There were literally hundreds of Native American tribes and there still are. All of those tribes have their own traditions and their own customs. Many had their own language. To say that a certain word, recipe, or custom is ‘Indian’ is incorrect.” — Wisdom Keepers

Native Americans are not just found in the history textbooks in schools or museum visits. The Native American peoples are all around us and they come in all forms of different shades and different cultures and traditions. They do not have to wear regalia, headdresses, or show you tomahawks to let you know that they are Native. Native American heritage is beautiful and diverse and can be represented in so many ways depending on who you are talking to. Here at the National Indian Head Start Directors Association, we are honored to help Native children, families, and communities form the connection and practices of their rich culture, heritage, and traditions to the next generation year-round.

While Head Start serves over 40,000 AIAN children and families, half of those receive services from non-tribal programs. It is critically important that all children receive high quality, culturally competent care and education. We invite our partners to view the following resources to gain a deeper understanding of enriching practices that respect and embrace Native American heritages, languages, and cultures.

Emily Wagner

Emily was NHSA's director of communications. Previously, she was deputy director of advocacy communications for the American Library Association and worked for many years in communications for Catholic University and The Pew Charitable Trusts. Emily spent her early years as a newspaper reporter.

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