The Stunning Beauty of Native American Culture


With the recent passing of Native American Heritage month this November, it’s important to take some time to appreciate and understand the beauty of Native American Culture. 

Native American Heritage month emphasizes how important it is to educate ourselves on the culture of Native Americans (or American Indians if they prefer). Laura Kelly, a U.S. History teacher at San Dimas High School voices her opinion on the topic of Native American Heritage month, “I think that it’s important to appreciate Native American Heritage Month because they are part of our culture too. They lived here in the United States first. I think that it’s just as important to talk about them and celebrate their history as it would be to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month or Black History Month because they’re part of our community.” 

Native American people are ancestors of Northeast Asia who migrated over the Bering Strait land bridge into North America estimated during the last glacial period. After migrating their civilization spread across modern-day Canada and the United States. There were hundreds of independent Native American tribes with some being as small as 10,000 members and the largest being 200,000 members. In the Southeast, the best-known indigenous people originally from this region are the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole. Other prominent tribes included the Natchez, Caddo, Apalachee, Timucua, and Guale. Traditionally, most tribes in the Southeast spoke Muskogean languages. 

The most influential religion was the practice of Peyotism by The Native American Church (NAC). It was officially chartered in the 20th Century, it integrates Christian principles with ancient tribal traditions and rituals. Traditionally, Mother Earth is a huge part of ceremony and worship. Most, if not all Native American tribes held animism and polytheistic beliefs. Beliefs in the sun, moon, and earth gods are common and it is beautiful because it appreciates the Earth that takes care of us.

(Symbol for the Native American Church of Peyotism)

Art is an important part of Native American culture. It encapsulates the beauty of nature, the symbols for specific gods, and a window into their lifestyles. Art mediums cover sculpture, textiles, basket weaving, paintings, murals, and ceramics. A lot of their clothing was art as well because it was meticulously constructed with beadwork and quillwork.

1. Digital scan of a color plate of painting. Printed with the following caption: “1902 by E. Irving Couse, A. N. A.; The Historian; The Indian Artist is painting in sign language, on buckskin, the story of a battle with American Soldiers. 2. Buffalo hide paintings by the Naiche tribe, c. 1900-1910; Sailko 3. Mask with seal or sea otter spirit; Alaska, Yup’ik Eskimo people, late 19th century

Native Americans today have some opportunities available to them such as land trusts, native-serving charities such as Northern Plains Reservation Aid, Pueblo Relief Fund, Native American Heritage Association Emergency Food Relief Fund, and tribal government payment. Today we can help them by learning about this culture because it keeps their story alive. “It is important to know that because 90% of the population of Native Americans died due to disease and famine and war after the Europeans got here, there’s not a lot of people to tell their story anymore. So we need to celebrate them because they helped just as much building our culture as everybody else did.” (Kelly).