November is Native American Heritage Month, a time to pay tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans. Here at IDHS, we are committed to doing our part to recognize and celebrate the past and present Native American communities.
Native Americans are part of the IDHS staff and among the millions of residents we serve.
Last year, Governor Pritzker created the first ever Illinois Native American Employment Plan Commission, which you can read more about HERE.
While centering the lived experiences and voices of Native peoples, we have a responsibility to acknowledge and actively address histories of dispossession and erasure and the role that Illinois has played in these colonial practices. We recognize that Native peoples are not only a part of Illinois' history but continue to play a vital role in our state's future.
Additionally, we are surrounded by lands that celebrate Native American Heritage Month. You are on Potawatomi Land is the largest public artwork to date by Andrea Carlson (Ojibwe), a visual artist who lives in Chicago. Conceived as a site-specific installation, "You Are on Potawatomi Land" states Carlson, "is a statement of fact. It is also a statement of perpetual belonging." You Are on Potawatomi Land adorns the Riverwalk on Wacker Drive just east of the Michigan Avenue Bridge.
The purpose of a land acknowledgement is to recognize, respect and affirm the ongoing relationship between Indigenous people and the land. Land acknowledgements also raise awareness about Indigenous histories, perspectives and experiences that have often been suppressed or forgotten. There are hundreds of Indigenous communities across the United States. Giving a land acknowledgement requires research and reflection to understand the historical and contemporary Indigenous communities having a relationship with the land.
There is so much to learn and celebrate about Native American heritage.
Let's learn together,
Grace B. Hou