Native American Heritage Month
Native American Heritage Month

Native American Heritage Month

Why We Celebrate

We use the month of November to commemorate the history and heritage of indigenous and Native Americans, and those with American Indian and Alaska Native backgrounds.  

At the start of the 20th century, an effort grew to recognize the first Americans, and commemorate those who inhabited our land before us. The first “American Indian Day” in a state was declared on the second Saturday in May 1916 by the governor of New York.  

What started as a singular holiday, evolved into the month-long celebration that we know now as the month of November. The first Native American monthly heritage celebration was established in November 1990, when President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month,” the first month-long observation of those with Native American heritage.  

It is crucial to use this time to honor the contributions, traditions and culture of native peoples. Particularly around the time of the Thanksgiving holiday, we hope to continue education surrounding the tribes and peoples that were indigenous to our land, while gaining awareness to the struggles that Native American people have historically faced.  

Native American Heritage Month Events

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About Native American History in Athens County  

The name of the state of Ohio derives from an Iroquois word ‘ohi-yo,’ that means “the great river.”  

According to Ohio History Central, the Adena people were the first to settle into small villages in the Athens area and living along the Hocking River where they produced pottery, ornaments, and jewelry that can still be found today. Many of the region’s large burial mounds were constructed by the Adena people.  

Other groups that resided in Athens County include the: Fort Ancient Indians, Hopewell, Osage, and Shawnee tribes.  

View a land acknowledgment on behalf of the Athens County Foundation here:

Athens County Foundation Land Acknowledgment  


Learn about indigenous peoples' history in Ohio

  • Burial Grounds

    Native American burial grounds are sacred sites where tribal members participate in traditional rituals and pay respects to their ancestors. Located in the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park (Mound City Group) in Chillicothe is Mound City – the largest of Hopewell burial grounds in eastern North America. There are an estimated 23 burial mounds throughout the park’s 13 acres.  


  • Ohio's History

    According to the Greenville Treaty, Ohio was considered “original Indian Territory” to the U.S. in the 1790s. 

  • Ohio Removal

    A series of treaties negotiated by white settlers led to the Ohio Removal between 1840-1845, in which many indigenous communities lost their land.

  • Ohio Tribes Today

    Many Native Americans still live in Ohio today and follow ancestry from the Lenape (Delaware), Miami, Ottawa, Seneca and Wyandot. Several other tribes migrated in and out of Ohio, but these five represent the greatest share of the Indigenous population.