Native American Heritage Month should be observed every day

November was designated as Native American Heritage Month. I was not able to fit in a blog post about it because I was doing some Native American research for a client. I am doing the post now because too many people in the U.S. and elsewhere ignore the Indigenous heritage of our lands on which we reside. Some of you may know that I am a fan of baseball, soccer, and hockey. What does that have to do with Native American Heritage Month?

I applaud sports teams that have some game days designated to honor many specific groups including Native Americans, Black Lives Matter, Stand Up to Cancer, and the LGBTQ+ community. One sport seems to quash much of this that players wish to observe. That would be the National Hockey League.

I recently observed one of our NHL Minnesota Wild goalies, Marc-André Fleury, and the honor he paid to his wife Véronique and their children who have Abenaki and Mi’kmaq heritage. He wore a specially designed face mask that was designed just for this purpose. He (and the team) was threatened with fines and more by the NHL, but it was important to him to show his support. The mask was then auctioned off for charity and that benefitted the American Indian Family Center in Minneapolis and the Minnesota Wild Foundation. I love that the mask was specially designed by a member of the Prairie Island Indian Community, Cole Redhorse Taylor. It’s a Mdewakanton Tribe here in Minnesota.

Fleury’s own French-Canadian heritage might have drawn my attention too. One of my Great Great Grandfathers was French Canadian.

I understand a sport league’s need to have guidelines for what is worn during games but to honor a group and deny any outwardly visible representation is not an honor. It’s not the NHL’s first flub on such directives. Two of the many articles about all of this are linked below. It’s also where you can see a photo of the beautiful mask.

© 2023, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.

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