November is Indigenous Peoples’ Heritage Month, a time to honor the complex and diverse societies, traditions and histories of Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and Island communities, including those of our associates. In commemoration of Indigenous People’s Heritage Month, Regions associates share their personal reflections.
Indigenous Peoples’ Heritage Month is a great month to reflect and remember my heritage. My whole life I have been taught about my Creek and Choctaw heritage. We belong to the Washington County Creek Tribe as well as the MOWA Choctaw Tribe. November is a dedicated time and reminder to continue digging into that heritage and celebrate my family along with other indigenous communities. Growing up I was told the stories of my fifth great grandfather who was a Creek chief. His name was Red Eagle (William Weatherford) and he led the Creek warriors in the lower creek territory in Alabama. Unfortunately, they were later defeated in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend by Andrew Jackson. Two years ago, I was able to go and visit the gravesite for William and his mother Sehoy to learn more about my lineage. For the past decade, my extended family in Mobile has been working to uncover more of our genealogy/lineage that proves we are Creek and has been working to be fully recognized by the government because of discrepancies that happened from not fleeing during the Trail of Tears. It’s been neat to be a part of this, to go to the genealogy workshops and learn more of our heritage, family lineage, and history of our Creek and Choctaw ancestry.
My favorite tradition is hearing the stories and learning about the strength our ancestors had throughout their history. I’ve been told my whole life that I come from a long line of strong women and that has helped shape who I am today. I wish that more people took the time to understand the different indigenous communities and to understand the true history of these communities. There is so much to uncover and some incredible stories to be told. Many of us come from multi-ethnic backgrounds, including myself, and it’s worth learning about to better understand and overcome the stereotypes that exist for our communities. I’m thankful to work for a company that celebrates this month and provides space to share my own heritage.
I am very proud of my Cherokee family. My great grandmother was full-blooded Cherokee and although I never had the pleasure of meeting her, I have heard many stories of her and how she instilled the Cherokee values in my grandmother and daddy.
We grew up with a strong work ethic and always to cherish the feeling of a Job Well Done. My great grandparents owned a vast amount of land in Kentucky when my grandmother was growing up. They logged this land to earn a good living and were able to give my grandmother and her two sisters the opportunity to attend Berea College when most were not able to go to college. At that time, there were only two degrees you were able to achieve if you were a woman. You could be a teacher or a nurse. My grandmother went for the teaching degree. When my daddy was a very young boy my whole family moved to the New Market, Tennessee, farm and started farming. I now live just a few miles from the beautiful farm that my daddy grew up on.
Because of my grandmother and her strong desire to be more that she instilled in me, I was one of the few in my family who went to the University of Tennessee and received a bachelor’s degree in finance. And here I am today, living out my dream of helping people get into their very own home. I am very proud of everything that my Cherokee heritage has instilled in me, and am proud to call myself Cherokee.
What Indigenous Peoples’ Heritage Month means to me is a celebration and appreciation to my ancestors. It means bringing awareness that my people are still here. Not many people realize that we are still thriving thick in our culture.
My favorite tradition in my tribe is our annual gatherings. Our biggest gathering is in July, when we host the Choctaw Indian Fair in Philadelphia, Mississippi. This fair is full of our culture for spectators to visit. We have Choctaw social dancing going on all day in our traditional attire and multiple vendors with our traditional foods such as hominy and fry bread. The beadwork of Choctaw artists is proudly displayed. We also host an annual Choctaw Indian Princess Pageant; the newly crowned princess will serve as the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Ambassador. The fair ends out with our traditional stickball championship game. The game of stickball has been around since our ancestors and is very interesting to watch.
I wish more people knew about our community in general. I naturally get asked what country I am from. I believe that most people do not realize that we are still here. We live amongst everyone else around the nation. We have reservations and tribal schools for our children and offer culture classes in hopes to not lose our traditions and cultures.
I am an Indigenous Native American. I am Navajo to be exact. My father was a very proud, tall Navajo man before he passed away in 2019. In recent years I have been trying to learn more about my heritage. My great grandfather Che Che had stories of when he was a little boy and automobiles first started to come out. My Che Che would race the cars alongside the road and outrun them. My great grandma Ashley used to make beautiful Navajo rugs and even made her own colors with various plants. My uncle Harold was even a chief. Navajo Nation is a very large reservation in Arizona where I am from. Navajos tell terrifying tales of Skinwalkers that will keep you up at night, as well as create so much beauty through their art and jewelry. Navajos were instrumental in World War II by using our language to help communicate messages in the war. Navajo is such a complex language that the enemy could not break the code. They were referred to as Wind Talkers. I am so proud of my Navajo heritage, and I feel honored to finally see Native Americans recognized after all the hardships we have faced. For so long we were shuffled and moved from our lands so the early settlers could take over. It has always grieved me what my ancestors have had to endure. All the hardships we’ve endured, and tears shed while being taken away from our homes has made our people stronger because of it. Thank you for recognizing Indigenous people.
Indigenous Peoples’ Heritage Month Ecards
Ecards are available to help you celebrate and raise awareness throughout the month.