ST. GEORGE — The cities of St. George, Ivins, Santa Clara and Toquerville each issued proclamations over the last few weeks to set November as National American Indian Heritage Month. Although gathering to celebrate Heritage Month may not be possible this year, local American Indian influence will not go unrecognized.
Cities are asked each year by the Color Country Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution to present a proclamation in recognition of Heritage Month. The DAR also encourages cities to do something special each year to recognize local Native American culture and influence.
“This is a time to celebrate the culture and heritage of these remarkable Americans,” St. George Mayor Jon Pike said in a statement. The city of St. George presented its proclamation on Oct. 23. “The contributions of American Indians have enhanced the freedom, prosperity and greatness of America today, and their customs and traditions are respected and celebrated as part of a rich legacy throughout our country, state and city.”
Recognizing the unique traditions and culture of Native Americans is very important on a local level, Santa Clara City Councilman Jarett Waite said in an email to St. George News. Santa Clara City Council presented its proclamation on Oct. 28.
“It’s especially meaningful for me because of our proximity to the Shivwits Band of Paiutes, as well as our community heritage,” Waite said. “I hope our citizens will spend some time this month learning about and reflecting on the traditions and contemporary issues of Native Americans in our area.”
Waite added that the mural on Santa Clara Drive, which was created in July by a Cedar Band of Paiutes artist, is a great place to start. The City Council allowed the mural to be painted after clearing it with local tribes to make sure their views were respected.
“I think it turned out amazing,” Waite said.
Last year, the city of Toquerville planted a tree to celebrate Heritage Month. Other cities have celebrated by gathering or learning about the Paiute language in the past. This year, the DAR is holding a book drive for books about American Indian culture and history or general American history, which the DAR will donate to the Shivwits Reservation for grades K-12.
“We’re recognizing during the month (American Indians’) contribution to our culture and society,” Valerie King, regent of the Color Country Chapter, said. “And to show that, we are conducting a book drive, choosing books that highlight those contributions that will be be donated to the local Shivwits youth for their reading enjoyment and help preserve their history too.”
Recognizing American Indian contribution and culture is all well and good, Shivwits Tribal Councilman Glenn Rogers said, but local communities could do more to honor the area’s tribes.
“I think they should somehow approach us and ask us what our thoughts are,” Rogers said. “Have a little more respect for the Paiutes in this area, not to just come on this land. They think they know what this is and what that is.”
Paiutes could teach people a lot about how to live off the land if they would ask, Rogers said. He notices people coming to the reservation to take photos of the big red mountain above Ivins and writing on the rocks.
“People don’t respect it in that way,” he said. “Just have respect for it, you know. Put it in your head and look at it.”
For more information about the DAR’s book drive, contact the Color Country chapter through their Facebook page, Color Country Chapter NSDAR, or email [email protected]
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