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National American Indian Heritage Month 2010 “Pride in our Heritage- Honor to our Ancestors” U.S. Customs Border and Border Protection Office of Diversity and Civil Rights (DCR). National American Indian Heritage Month November 2010.

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National American Indian Heritage Month 2010“Pride in our Heritage- Honor to our Ancestors”U.S. Customs Border and Border ProtectionOffice of Diversity and Civil Rights (DCR)

national american indian heritage month november 2010
National American Indian Heritage Month November 2010

At U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), we believe that our diversity is our strength. CBP is committed to providing cultural awareness activities and educational information to CBP employees because we believe that by creating and maintaining an environment of cultural fluency we grow stronger as an organization.

National American Indian Heritage Month celebrates, recognizes and honors the accomplishments and contributions of the people who were the original inhabitants, explorers and settlers of the United States of America. This year’s National American Indian Heritage Month Theme is, “Pride in our Heritage-Honor to our Ancestors.” This theme recognizes that American Indians continue to shape our society by preserving the heritage of their ancestors.

This presentation is designed to provide you with a brief overview of American Indian history, culture and beliefs.

We hope you find this presentation educational and entertaining.


National American Indian Heritage Month November 2010

“Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.”

Tatanka Iyotaka, (Sitting Bull)



National American Indian Heritage Month November 2010

According to the Library of Congress, National American Indian Heritage Month is predated with a weeklong observance. In 1986 Congress passed Public Law 99-471 authorizing and requesting President Ronald Reagan to proclaim the week of November 23-30 as American Indian Week.

In 1986 President Reagan issued the first Presidential Proclamation 5577 proclaiming the first American Indian Week. Four years later, in 1990 President George H.W. Bush signed into law a joint resolution designating the month of November as the first National American Indian Heritage Month. The Congress found this month to be befitting since November is a time of Thanksgiving and it also concludes the traditional harvest season.

american indian spirituality honor to our ancestors
American Indian Spirituality Honor to Our Ancestors

There are many Native American Indian tribes around the United States and with different tribes come different beliefs. Many spiritual essentials that are used in some tribes were not necessarily used in others. Each tribe has their own system of beliefs, healings, practices and taboos that they have to follow.

The Indian perspective about health is that each person is spiritually and physically connected to nature, and serves as an embodiment of synergy between the elements and the physical being, honoring Mother Earth and her Wisdom.


American Indian Spirituality Honor to Our Ancestors

There is a belief in a higher power, sometimes called God, or The Creator, or The Great Mystery among other Terms. In religious ceremonies the participants hope to call to mind that they are related to all things, that all the peoples are relatives.

Native American Indians celebrate many different practices and ceremonies, which include:

Storytelling & Mythical Healing: Storytelling by elders or tribal leaders released spiritual obstacles and transmitted wisdom to those in poor health.


American Indian Spirituality Honor to Our Ancestors


Refers to aboriginal healers. They are believed to possess special healing powers. They are believed to interpret the causes of sickness or lack of hunting success. They work with the spirit or soul to help those who are ill. They gain knowledge from working with spirits of animals and humans such as their ancestors. For the shaman everything is alive and carries information.

Native American Female Shaman, Circa 1880


American Indian Spirituality Honor to Our Ancestors

Snake Dance:

The Snake Dance was a ritual/ceremony performed by the Hopi Indians in the northeastern part of Arizona. The Indians would dance with live snakes in their mouths. Then the snakes are released in the four directions (North, South, East and West) as a prayer for rain.

american indian spirituality honor to our ancestors1
American Indian Spirituality Honor to Our Ancestors

Sweat Lodge Ceremony: Sweat lodges were used for rituals of purification, for spiritual renewal and of healing. To them it was more of a spiritual refuge where they went to seek spiritual guidance, mental and physical healing.

american indian spirituality honor to our ancestors2
American Indian Spirituality Honor to Our Ancestors

Totem Poles

The Northwest Indians believed that each of their clans was closely related to a particular animal. Common animals were the raven, thunderbird, eagle, wolf, killer whale, and bear. These animals were used as designs for many objects.

The designs were sometimes flattened or bent to the shape of the object it was being placed on. Parts of the animals were drawn in squared ovals and solid, curved u-shaped sections. These objects are known as totem poles.

where do native americans live today
Where do Native Americans Live Today?

The majority of American Indians live in North America, in Canada and the United States.

The states of California, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, New York, Washington, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan and Alaska each have more than 100,000 American Indian and Alaska Native residents and are home to 61 percent of the nation\'s native population.

California has the largest American Indian population in the United States, including 108 federally-recognized Indian tribes.

American Indians living on reservations are citizens of the United States but are also subject to tribal laws and elect tribal leadership.

native american facts
Native American Facts

According to Census 2000, “the American Indian tribal groupings with 100,000 or more people were Cherokee, Navajo, Latin America Indian, Choctaw, Sioux and Chippewa.

These six tribal groups accounted for 42% of all responses. In addition, Eskimo was the largest Alaska Native Tribal group followed by Tlingit-Haida, Alaska Athabascan, and Aleut.

These four tribal groupings combined accounted for 3.6% of all American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes.”

native american influence within cbp
Native American Influence within CBP

In addition to Native American contributions to the larger American society, their contributions are evident within CBP.

Native American culture significantly impacted how CBP protects our homeland. Centuries ago, Native Americans used many different skills to survive and one of those skills they developed was that of tracking.

They learned to track to hunt for food and to find their way through the forest and mountains.

native american influence within cbp1
Native American Influence within CBP

Today, CBP Border Patrol agents have borrowed and rely on tracking skills drawn from Native Americans. Border Patrol agents use those same traditional methods, which are called, “cutting sign” to track illegal immigrants and drug traffickers.

“Sign” refers to any kind of physical evidence such as, footprints, tire tracks, etc., and “cutting” refers to analyzing the physical evidence. It is a skill learned to locate, follow and identify evidence of individuals passing through an area.

native american influence within cbp2
Native American Influence within CBP

CBP continues its joint efforts with Native Americans to achieve our vital homeland security mission and to further our ability to protect and secure our borders.

tribal colleges and universities
Tribal Colleges and Universities

The Office of the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities leads the implementation of Executive Order 13270, ensuring that the nation\'s Tribal Colleges and Universities are more fully recognized and have full access to federal programs benefiting other higher education institutions.

Today, there are 36 federally recognized Tribal Colleges and Universities in the United States. Located mainly in the Midwest and Southwest, Tribal Colleges and Universities service approximately 30,000 full- and part-time students.

tribal colleges and universities1
Tribal Colleges and Universities

Tribal Colleges and Universities are both integral and essential to their communities. They are often the only postsecondary institutions within some of our Nation\'s poorest rural areas. Tribal Colleges and Universities serve a variety of people, from young adults to senior citizens, American Indians to non-American Indians. They also provide crucial services and add hope to communities that suffer high rates of poverty and unemployment.

american indian resource websites
Bureau of Indian Affairs

Indian Health Services

Native Languages of the Americas

Smithsonian –

National Museum of the American Indian

American Indian Heritage Foundation

This Day in North American Indian History

Other Resources:

American Indian Higher Education Consortium

U.S. Census Bureau

Rutgers University Library

American Indian Resource Websites
This presentation was prepared by the Office of Diversity and Civil Rights as part of the continuing series of Diversity and Inclusion Program presentations.

Audio provided by the Office of Public Affairs, Visual Communications.