Recently, there have been conversations at library conferences about the recognition of heritage and history months, including African American History Month in February, Women’s History Month in March, Asian Pacific Heritage Month in May, and Native American Heritage Month in November.  Some say the celebrations could relegate the recognition of these groups to one month a year.

That’s not the case at Milton Public Library.  We work year round to ensure the library’s collection of materials and our programming represents many and various cultures, peoples, communities, and issues.  We see heritage and history months as an opportunity to highlight these different groups and the library’s resources that feature them.

This year we have two special programs scheduled for Native American Heritage Month.

Damian Costello will present “That the People May Live: The Legacy of Nicholas Black Elk, Holy Man of the Lakota” at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19.  This Vermont Humanities Council event will explore Black Elk’s life in three overlapping roles: as a traditional healer, a Catholic teacher, and a revivalist of Indigenous traditions.   Costello is an international expert on the life and legacy of Black Elk, and the author of “Black Elk: Colonialism and Lakota Catholicism.”

Award-winning author and master storyteller Michael Caduto will present “Native American Thanksgivings: Completing the Circles of Giving and Receiving,” at 10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 25.   Caduto will share songs, chants, native instruments, and dance to explore the meaning of thanksgiving in indigenous cultures. Caduto is the founder of P.E.A.C.E.® – Programs for Environmental Awareness and Cultural Exchange.  Native American Thanksgivings is for all ages.

Our display case features a collection of Native American clothing, accessories, and art, including an Abenaki ribbon dress.  Vermont officially recognizes the Elnu Tribe of the Abenaki, the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation, the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi, and the Koasek Traditional Band of the Koos Abenaki Nation as having a longstanding and continuous presence in the region.  According to the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs, Vermont’s Native history began about 13,000 years ago, when people called the Paleo-Indians first moved into the land we now call Vermont.

A book display near the front of the library features Indigenous authors and books about Indigenous peoples.  The newest addition to the library’s collection is “The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present” by David Turner.  Turner, an Ojibwe who grew up on a reservation in Minnesota, debunks the idea that Native culture ended with the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee.  He explores how the American Indians’ intense struggles to preserve their tribes, cultures, and languages is testimony to their existence and resurgence.

We hope you’ll visit Milton Public Library during November to participate in a Native American Heritage Month program, view our displays, and check out some books.

Book Bits November 2019
By Susan Larson, Director, Milton Public Library
This article was originally published in the Milton Independent on November 14, 2019.  It is reprinted here with permission.