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Native American Heritage Month

Every November, we celebrate Native American Heritage Month and honor the remarkable indigenous peoples, past, and present who have lived on this land for hundreds of years.

We take this time to celebrate the unique contributions made by Native Americans and pay tribute to their rich ancestry and traditions while acknowledging the challenges they have faced. The main image above is a historical photo of a Siletz Tribal ceremony performed in the Oceanlake in 1924 (Photo courtesy of the North Lincoln County Historical Museum).

In Lincoln County, we have many tribal members that continue to reside on this beautiful coastline. The Confederated Tribe of the Siletz Indians (CTSI) explained the importance of this month to us.

"The month of November is Native American Heritage Month. We here at CTSI see this as a positive thing. It is a time when the public, schools, universities, institutions, federal, state, and local governments highlight and celebrate the rich histories, cultures, contributions, and traditions of the Indigenous people of this land. This is a time to help educate the public and bring into focus the issues and struggles that impact Tribal people and communities today.

For us though, every day is Native American Heritage Month or Day. We practice our traditions and culture throughout every season of the year, whether that be gathering traditional materials, harvesting traditional foods, practicing our ceremonies, or teaching the next generation that which was taught to us. Every season of the year has traditions we observe.

Our leadership fights constantly to see that our eight treaties, which ceded all of Western Oregon, are honored and that our sovereignty is unencumbered. People often think that all things having to do with Tribal people are all said and done. That is simply not the case. There is always much to be done."

So what is the Siletz Tribe Restoration? The tribal staff explains.

"The Siletz Tribe regaining federal recognition is one of the most defining moments in our history. The anniversary of our Restoration is a time for celebration and remembering. We typically celebrate Restoration Day with a meal and pow-wow but are unable to do so this year.

Our people have always marked days or events of great importance by holding dances where our community comes together to enjoy the company of family and friends, community, food, songs, and dances, but also to remember who we are and how we got here.

We pay homage to those who suffered conditions hard to imagine, the loss of homes, lands, freedoms, rights as people, genocide, and more. In the face of all that, our ancestors endured as they held on to their cultural traditions and beliefs. So when Siletz people come together to take part in our traditional dances, wearing regalia, there is a direct link to all those who have come before us.

Their spirit is alive in the songs we sing, the regalia we wear, the prayers we pray, and in the ancient steps to our dances. Today it is our job to carry our traditions on and pass them on to the next generation, as the generations before did."

While this event is canceled, there are still ways to indulge yourself in this month of Native American Heritage. Check out the Native American Heritage Month's website for events such as cinema showcases and virtual discussions.