City of Gaithersburg Celebrates Native American Heritage Month

by MCS Staff
An official proclamation designates November 2021 is as “Native American Heritage Month” in the City.
Per the City of Gaithersburg:

The City invites you to celebrate Native American Heritage Month with educational & cultural presentations that include virtual programming, an official proclamation, and a special display at the Casey Farmers Market with vendor Ekowah Coffee & Running Strong with American Indian Youth. Residents are encouraged to learn about & celebrate Native American culture and participate in local events & programs taking place throughout the month, many coordinated by the City’s Multicultural Affairs Committee (MAC).

An official proclamation designating November 2021 as “Native American Heritage Month” in the City of Gaithersburg was presented at the October 18 Mayor & City Council meeting. The proclamation was received by Dr. Michelle Alexander, Media Specialist at Richard Montgomery High School. Dr. Alexander is part Piscataway Indian, the only state-recognized tribe in Maryland. She is the chair of the Cultural Diversity & Awareness Action Team, sponsor of the Diverse Voices student club, and she continually educates students and other educators on the reality of Native issues. View the presentation here & read more here.

Joshua Smith, owner of Ekowah Coffee, a Native American owned and operated socially responsible coffee roaster, will be a featured vendor at the Casey Farmers Market on Thursday, November 11. The market is open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. A portion of the profits from his sales will benefit Running Strong for American Indian Youth. Group members will join Joshua at the Market with a culturally rich display of traditional Native American objects & artifacts and will discuss the program & share Native American traditions with the community.

Ekowah means “friend” in the Osage language, and their values of respect, equity, and the goodwill of friendship are extended at every level of Ekowah Coffee. Joshua says their Tinker Camp roast is an ode to his family’s time together on the Osage Reservation. “Every summer the Osage have a ceremonial dance called In’lonshka, or also just the dances,” says Joshua. “It is the highlight of the year for our family and the tribe as a whole.” The family would gather together at the family’s home in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, named “Tinker Camp” after his grandfather George Tinker. Cousins, uncles, and aunties would dance, have campfires, eat amazing food, and drink lots of coffee.

Virtual educational & cultural presentations prepared by MAC will also be posted on the Special Events Facebook Page @GaithersburgEvents throughout November.

Native American Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the rich cultural traditions & proud ancestry of Native Americans & recognize the vital contributions they have made & continue to make to the art, history, traditions & diversity of our society.

Native American Heritage Week (November 23 to 30) was first recognized in 1986 during the Reagan administration & was expanded to Native American Heritage Month in 1990 under President George H.W. Bush. American Indian Heritage Day is celebrated on the fourth Friday of November in the state of Maryland.

The native & indigenous people have significantly contributed to the rich fabric of history and culture we celebrate in our community. The Native American community makes up 2.9 percent of the population in the United States, with the 2020 Census indicating that a little less than one percent of the City’s population identify themselves as American Indian or Native Alaskan, up from .5 percent in 2010.


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