J&O Celebrates : National Native American Heritage Month

May the warm winds of Heaven blow softly upon your house.

May the Great Spirit bless all who enter there.

May your moccasins make happy tracks in many snows,

And may the rainbow always touch your shoulder.”

-Cherokee Prayer Blessing

In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994.

The theme for this year’s heritage month is “Celebrating Tribal Nations: America’s Great Partners, which comes less than 20 years after author and Holocaust historian David Stannard revealed documentation of one of the largest acts of genocide of Native Americans that America has ever committed on this land in his book American Holocaust, 1992. According to his findings, an estimated 100 million Natives were killed from exposure to diseases or violence at the hands of colonists and settlers between the 1490s when Christopher Columbus set foot on the Americas, and the 1890 massacre of Sioux at Wounded Knee. A statistic, that by all accounts, exceeds that of even the Jewish Holocaust. With this in mind, this years celebration is a testament to not only the spiritual strength and compassion of the true Americans, but to the courage, tenacity and commitment of a beautiful community of nations and their way of life.

From the popular Cherokee, Apache and Powhatan Nations, to the lesser known Munsee, Shineecock, and Wampanoag Tribes, the indigenous peoples of America are truly this countries greatest partners in essence when we look at the magnitude of their contributions that include but are not limited to the following:

The mining of gold and silver, largely with Native American labor, led to rapid economic development and European trade expansion resulting in the Industrial Revolution. Natural resources, including oil, ore, water, timber and other fuels were found primarily on Native American lands.

The federal system does not trace its roots to Europe, but rather to Native American tribal organizations. Both Benjamin Franklin and George Washington were extremely knowledgeable about Native American social and political structures. Franklin urged our Founding Fathers to model our government on the League of Iroquois, while the United States Constitution was derived from the Iroquois Kaianerekowa or Great Law of Peace.

A high percentage of Native Americans have served in America’s wars dating from revolutionary times until today. During World War II for example, 400 Native American men served with distinction as “code talkers” relaying battlefield messages in Athapaskan tongue, a language that Japanese intelligence was unable to decipher even though they were able to interpret every other code the American military used. Code talking was so effective that it was used until 1968.

Native American Indians provided quinine as the first effective treatment of malaria and utilized many plants that have resulted in remarkable contributions to 20th century medicine including aspirin ­related tree bark extracts, laxatives, painkillers, antibacterial medicines, petroleum jelly and others.

Native Americans have a fundamental respect for preserving the environment even as technology and growth rapidly expand our world. Earth wisdom is a gift from the Native Americans to be embraced for future survival.

In honor of the thousands of men, women, children and elders slain at the hands of the selfish, fearful and greedy. And the many more who have survived to tell their stories, J&O celebrates Native American History Month by offering a beautiful selection of assorted prints reminiscent of the spirit and culture of a people so diverse yet so connected just the same.


Tantoo Cardinal

Rodney Grant

Eartha Kitt

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