Blog Post

How DBP Member Organizations are Celebrating Native American Heritage Month in 2021

By Deanna Keenan
November 3, 2021

Native American Heritage Month began as a day of recognition in 1915 and grew into a month-long celebration in 1990. This is a time to celebrate and support Indigenous Americans across the United States. Over the last few years, many Americans have started to acknowledge more the impact colonialization has had on Native Americans in the U.S. From supporting the decolonization of Thanksgiving to learning about land acknowledgements there are many ways people can learn more about Native Americans and honor the sacrifices they have been forced to make. learn more about Native Americans and honor the sacrifices they have been forced to make.

Since 1970, Indigenous people and allies have honored Native Americans who suffered and died because of colonization on the National Day of Mourning. This day is always on the fourth Thursday of every November and has replaced Thanksgiving for many as a way to pay homage for the price paid to live in the United States. Organized yearly by the United American Indians of New England (UAINE), the event this year will be both in-person and virtual on November 25. The event put on by UAINE this year will be live streamed from Plymouth, Massachusetts at noon.

You can also learn more about Native American heritage and honor Indigenous stories through the following publications, podcasts, and films:

Nonprofits that accept donations and directly impact the Indigenous community in the U.S.:

Below, see what some Diversity Best Practices members are doing to celebrate and honor Native Americans this month:

Experian North America

during November that recognize the importance of Native American communities and their impact on the country. Disparities within this Indigenous community will also be addressed and what actions folks can take to support their local Native American community will be communicated.

Experian is proud to celebrate and recognize National Native American Heritage Month. These communities make for a better organization and truly help create a better tomorrow.

Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC)

HCSC has several virtual activities planned in celebration of Native American Heritage Month. Our Native Americans in Progress Business Resource Group (NAIP) helps to achieve the strategic goals of promoting and supporting diversity in the workforce by encouraging leadership growth for Native Americans within the company. HCSC will send out company-wide communications and leverage technology to engage employees in the activities taking place in November.

Below is a list of planned activities:
  • Native American Traditional Foods: “The Three Sisters” featuring Chef Jason Champagne This virtual cooking demonstration is aimed at empowering and inspiring people through Native American traditional foods education. Chef Jason Champagne discusses the importance of the “Three Sisters” ingredients, corn, beans, and squash to Native American culture and will share his story on how he has become closer to his culture by using these ingredients. He will share his favorite healthy diabetic friendly recipes using these ingredients and will provide tips for participants on how to enhance plate presentation, understand portion control, and leave with increased confidence they can prepare these easy and diabetes friendly dishes at home.
  • Veteran’s Drive: Throughout November, the NAIP BRG will host a veteran’s donation drive to collect socks and winter gloves. These items will be shared with local organizations that aid veterans.
  • Music and Storytelling by Veterans: The NAIP OK chapter and Oklahoma City Veteran Affairs Health System Native American employee groups will partner to host an event for the Oklahoma City Veteran Affairs employees, VA patients and HCSC employees. In addition to the entertainment, the event will feature a health and wellness resource booth for patients.
  • Killers of the Flower Moon: A chat with Margie Burkhart, granddaughter of Osage citizen Mollie Burkhart Margie Burkhart, Osage Nation Citizen, will share her personal perspective on the history and events that are the basis of the book and soon to be released movie “Killers of the Flower Moon”.
  • Rock Your Mocs Day: Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Albuquerque HCSC employees will participate in National Rock Your Mocs Day. Employees will take group pictures wearing moccasins, turquoise ribbons and tribal regalia and share across HCSC social media channels. This activity offers a fun way to commemorate Native American Heritage Month and celebrate indigenous people.

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ

To recognize Native American Heritage Month at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ, the company will be acknowledging the month in a monthly DEI observance email.

Merck & Co

Native American History is American History. There are many ways, gestures, acts and events that help celebrate Native American Heritage Month. However, celebrating and appreciating doesn’t have to be only for this month. It can continue to be a celebration any day and every day! Merck is grateful to our DEI COE leadership for the opportunity to celebrate Indigenous people and communities and elevate & incorporate Indigenous insights into the important work done every day!

Each week the company will be hosting different events. Below is a list:
  • November 1:
    • Spotlight video viewing of the NAGIP (Durham) presentation by Crystal Cavalier Keck. Native Americans Who Fight Invisibility.
    • Spotlight on Innovation: Project Wakan-Tu-Naji – Digital Transformation – Inclusion of Indigenous Insights.
  • November 8:
    • Spotlight Article: Merck & AISES (American Indian Science and Engineering Society) – talent recruiting featuring Todd Gibbons – Talent Acquisition Lead for NAGIP EBRG *Merck Recognition as a Top 50 STEM Workplaces 2021 in Winds of Change Magazine.
  • November 15:
    • Spotlight Interview Viewing: Featuring Merck’s Native American Global Indigenous People (NAGIP) EBRG Member and Authentic Indigenous voice: Shakiyla Carter hosted by Leslie Brunette
    • Celebrating and Honoring Native American Heritage Month EVERY day: LIVE WebEx Event: Native American Heritage Month Event: Two-Spirit Panel Discussion with Ryan D. Wilson and Virtual Pow Wow HISTORY OF THE TWO-SPIRIT: Reclaiming the Lost Heritage of First Nation Culture, Gender and Sexuality In honor of Native American Heritage Month, and Transgender Awareness week, the Pennsylvania chapter of the Rainbow Alliance is partnering with the Native American Groups and Indigenous Persons.
    • Community Cleanup: Hosted by NAGIP Millsboro Chapter: Town of Millsboro or Delaware Seashore State Park Clean-up event HESPERUS.
  • November 22:
    • Spotlight Article: Post virtual event hosted by NAGIP Elkton chapter: Indigenous Foods Celebration virtual event w/ Red Mesa Cuisine.
  • November 29:
    • Spotlight Article: Post LIVE Event hosted by NAGIP Millsboro Chapter: Town of Millsboro or Delaware Seashore State Park Clean-up event “Humans merely share the earth. We can only protect the land, not own it.” –Chief Seattle.

Merck is proud to partner with Hesperus this year, a U.S. non-profit organization dedicated to serving the Native American community. Hesperus provides pathways to education and employment for members of rural and tribal communities. Merck is dedicated to supporting underserved tribal populations, with a focus on veterans, including Native American Veterans and their families, and creating educational and employment opportunities across the United States through skills training, workforce development, and technology.

About the Author

Deanna Keenan
Senior Research Analyst, Insights