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American Indian Heritage Month

13 American Indian Heritage Mo PosterNovember is National American Indian Heritage Month.  It is dedicated to recognizing the intertribal cultures and to educate the public about the heritage, history, art, and traditions of American Indians.

One of the ways NRCS celebrates American Indian Heritage Month is by producing a poster featuring artwork by an American Indian.  Each year artists from selected states have the opportunity to exhibit his/her talents and heritage on a national level.

The title for this year is Land of Great Water - Sustainer of Life.

Michigan NRCS was selected to create the AIAN Heritage Month Poster for 2013.  Michigan is translated in Anishinabown (the language of the Anishinabek) as “Land of Great Water” and, at NRCS, we recognize that clean water is crucial for sustaining life.

The painting by Ms. Shirley M. Brauker of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians in Manistee, Michigan, was chosen as the artwork for the poster.  The acrylic-on-canvas painting, “The Rice Gatherers” depicts three Native American women harvesting wild rice with “beaters” in a birch bark canoe, while the “rice spirit” (whose hair is wild rice) looks on from the surface of the water.  It shows the importance of Manoomin or “wild rice” in the culture and diet of the Anishinaabe (or Ojibwe.)

In conjunction with recognizing the contributions of American Indians, I hope you will prominently display this year’s poster in your office. 

As Alabamians and Conservationists we have much in common with the first Americans.  The rich culture of the varied Indian tribes contributed to the history of Alabama and America as a whole. American Indian names abound in the streams, cities and towns across Alabama and the entire United States.  Agriculture has always been an important subject in American Indian culture.  American Indian culture emphasizes living with the land and understanding the surrounding natural resources, not unlike the goals of our agency.  When Europeans first arrived in the "New World," one of the largest contributions and benefits of their relationships with American Indians was the sharing of agricultural information.  It is widely acknowledged that colonists would not have survived in the New World without the support and knowledge gained from American Indian agricultural techniques.

American Indians practiced crop rotation, minimum tillage, hybridizations, seed development, irrigation methods and many other agricultural techniques that are still used today.

While most American Indian tribes were forced to leave Alabama during the Indian Removals of the 1800's, these tribes are not extinct.  American Indians removed from their home in Alabama have fought a hard battle and survived in Oklahoma and other western states.  A few of the descendants of Alabama Indians who escaped from Removal hung on to their communities and by hard work and determination are the basis for the Federal Recognized Poarch Band of Creek Indians near Atmore and several State recognized tribes.

The annual Poarch Band of Creek Indians Pow Wow in Atmore, Alabama, will be held near Thanksgiving in November. This will be a good opportunity to interact and learn about the culture of the Creek Indians of Alabama.

I urge you to participate in one of the many events that will be taking place across the State to celebrate American Indian Heritage Month.

Request Copies of Poster at http://landcare.sc.egov.usda.gov/.

Past American Indian Heritage Month Posters (PDF)