Submitted by jbraun on

In November, BCLS celebrates National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. According to archeologists, the first people to reach the Americas did so as early as 12000 BC, and scientists believe that early ancestors of American Indians crossed continents from Asia (current day Russia) into Alaska via the Bering Strait. As they migrated across continents, they developed languages, customs and skills that allowed them to build different tribal nations. Native Americans have a deep respect for the land, living in harmony with nature. They were ecologists long before the term was coined in modern day dictionaries.

Many of the food eaten in the United States today was originally grown by Native American ancestors, including potatoes, beans, corn, peanuts, pumpkins, tomatoes, squash, melons and sunflower seed. The Native Americans helped European settlers survive in the “New World” by sharing their farming methods. Benjamin Franklin used the idea of the formation of a federal government from the Iroquoian League of Nations that had a centralized governing system with powers given to member Nations. More than 8,000 Native American’s volunteered to serve the U.S. during World War I, and well over 24,000 served during World War II. Many a popular activity enjoyed today in the U.S., such as canoeing, snowshoeing, tobogganing and lacrosse originated from the Native American culture.

Learn more about Native American and Alaskan Native heritage, history, and culture at BCLS.