APFA Celebrates Native American Heritage Month
Throughout the year, APFA recognizes, celebrates, and pauses to honor the United States of America’s cultural diversity. For November, we celebrate the contributions and accomplishments of our nation’s indigenous peoples.
In 1976, President Gerald Ford designated October 10-16, 1976, as “Native American Awareness Week.” In 1990, President George H.W. Bush designated November 1990 as “National American Indian Heritage Month,” and in 2010, President Obama established the month as “National Native American Heritage Month.” Since 2010, Presidents Obama and Trump have continued the proclamation each November.
A Profile in Courage: Madonna Thunder Hawk
Born in 1940 and raised in the Oceti Sakowin homelands, located in the northern United States, Madonna Thunder Hawk has dedicated her life to the advancement of Native Americans, with a particular focus on issues affecting Native American women.
Madonna Thunder Hawk
Thunder Hawk was an early member of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and was among the AIM activists present at the 1973 occupation of the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in protest of the lack of fair and equitable treatment of Native Americans. Thunder Hawk was a member of the Pie Patrol, a group of female activists within the AIM, along with Thelma Rios, Theda Nelson Clarke, Lorelei DeCora Means, and Mary Crow Dog. Along with Lorelei DeCora and other prominent female Native American activists, Thunder Hawk founded the Women of All Red Nations (WARN), a group dedicated to women’s advancement within the Native American population. WARN acted as a counterbalance to the then male-dominated American Indian Movement. WARN worked on issues ranging from women’s, children’s, and political prisoners’ rights to indigenous land rights threats.
Thunder Hawk was also a member of the Black Hills Alliance, formed to protect sacred land in the Black Hills of South Dakota from aggressive development. The Black Hills Alliance conducted analyses of the Black Hills’ water supply and proved the existence of dangerous radiation levels in the water. The result of this activism was a new water system for the residents in the area.
Today, Thunder Hawk continues to advocate for Native American rights as a tribal liaison for the Lakota People’s Law Project, which partners with Native American communities to address the protection of sacred lands, human rights, and to promote child safety and access to education.
“There are those of us who are content to assimilate or whatever, but there are those of us who want to maintain the culture our ancestors died for… We have the right to be who we are.” ~Madonna Thunder Hawk
We pause to reflect on the past and present trials and tribulations of our nation’s first inhabitants and continue to celebrate the history, culture, and traditions of which they contribute to our country.
Paul Hartshorn, Jr.
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