In celebration of Native American Heritage Month this November, our students shared celebrations of their Native and Indigenous cultures. Learn more about how students learned about, connected with, interpreted and celebrated Native American Heritage Month below and here.
Want to learn more about Native American Heritage Month and access resources that you can use in the classroom? Visit the Cultural Moments page.
Meadow Contreras | Sicangu Lakota Tribe, Denver South High School
"My name is Meadow Contreras and I am Sicangu Lakota and Chicana. I live in a Jewish suburban neighborhood. My family and I were always the only brown people anywhere we went. But we were never treated badly because of it. In fact, we were put on a pedestal because everyone loved our culture. And because we were commonly isolated from people who are also Native, my parents made sure we knew who we are and the purpose of our traditions. My mom was born and raised in the Rosebud reservation in a little community called Okreek. My dad lived in the same place for some time with his dad. My parents went to school together but didn’t start talking until they were both in Denver. My mom mainly moved away because she wanted her kids to have a better experience growing up with more opportunities and brighter future options. She moved away from everything she knew before she was an adult to make sure she made a difference for us."
Read Meadow's full submission here.
Andrue Davis | Sicangu Lakota Tribe, John F. Kennedy High School
"My grandma, she [plays] a big role in my culture. She makes fry bread and beads necklaces and smudges. My grandma is the culture in my family – she takes us to powwows and marches and any activity to support our Indigenous people so everything I know I really owe to her."
Jayde Tinker | Osage Tribe, American Indian Academy of Denver
"I felt really good after finishing my ribbon skirt and shawl. It was very enjoyable to create something I will use that is important not only to me but lots of people. I have had some hard times while making all the stitching and cutting of fabric but it was still a great memory I will keep for a long time. I have to thank my mom for getting me to the Indian Center every Thursday. Also thank you to Erlidawn for getting me into sewing and helping me learn to sew, I think it’s a great skill to have!"
Mia and Amari Archambault | Standing Rock (Lakota/Dakota) Tribe, Denver North High School
"We are sisters from the Lakota/Dakota, Hunkpapa nation and enrolled in the Standing Rock tribe. Mia Archambault, 16 years old and Amari Archambault, 18 years old. We are Jingle Dress dancers and fell in love with this type of dancing when we were young children. The Jingle dress dance is known as the Medicine dance because it was created by the Ojibwe people approximately 100 years ago following the flu pandemic.
The story of the Jingle Dress dance is told about a medicine man having a dream about four women jingling dancing. His granddaughter was very ill and after this dream, his granddaughter gained the strength to dance and created a jingle dress to cure her sickness.
Our grandma made our dresses and that’s when our journey for dancing began. We went to powwows and watched other women, including our older sisters Jingle dancing and watched their footsteps. We would dance behind them and slowly begin to dance ourselves. Today many women continue this tradition and dance at pow wows. They dance for the people, families, ancestors and for the love and fulfillment this dance brings to us."