Shekoli (hello)! Today, we kick off Native American Heritage Month in the U.S. I am a citizen of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, or Onyota’a:ka, and I am thankful that I was able to grow up on my tribe’s reservation, which is on the ancestral lands of the Menominee Nation. I celebrate the resiliency of the Menominee, Oneida, and the 10 other tribal nations of Wisconsin, honor their sovereignty, and acknowledge their connection to the lands and waters of this state.
My tribe is just one of the nearly 600 federally recognized tribes in the U.S. Every year, I look forward to this month as an opportunity to learn more about the diverse tribes, nations, communities and pueblos that make up Indian Country, a term used to describe Native economies and spaces in the United States. Like many Native people alive today, I am a descendant of survivors of residential schools which were created in the 19th century, and carried on into the 20th, as part of the United States’ assimilation policy. Learning about and celebrating Indigenous culture means so much to me because I know how much was required to carry it on.
Olivia with her mother at the annual Oneida Pow Wow when she was a child.
I’m proud to serve as a lead for the Google Aboriginal and Indigenous Network (GAIN), an employee resource group which supports our growing community at Google and helps make a positive impact in Native communities outside Google. What started out as a majority U.S-focused group back in 2012 (and previously named the Google American Indian Network) has now grown to include Googlers from around the world, including First Nations, Métis and Inuit in Canada, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Australia. This year, we partnered with teams across Google to support Native-serving organizations, celebrate Indigenous artists, and amplify the stories of people building Indigenous futures.
Supporting Native jobseekers and small businesses
Across the U.S. the compounding effects of COVID-19 continue to disproportionately impact vulnerable populations, including the Indigenous community. According to a report from the Center for American Progress, “COVID-19 will cost Indian Country an estimated $50 billion in economic activity and place the livelihoods of 1.1 million tribal business workers—both Native and non-Native—at risk.” Small businesses drive local economies and help foster a sense of belonging in the communities they serve and represent.
Last year, as part of our economic recovery efforts, Google.org provided $1.25 million in grants to the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) to help support Native-owned small businesses like Earth and Sky Floral Designs and Gallery. Shayai Lucero, a tribal member of the Acoma Pueblo and Laguna Pueblo, started Earth and Sky Floral Designs and Gallery used funding from NCAI’s program to keep her floral business running and to hire fellow local tribal members during the pandemic.
“I hired a graphics designer who is from Laguna Pueblo to do some graphics and revisions to my company's logo. I was able to pay him at a non-discounted price thanks to the grant. The logo revision has allowed me to market in ways I haven’t before” shares Shayai Lucero, owner of Earth and Sky Floral Designs and Gallery.
In addition to our support of Native small businesses, we are also giving $1 million to Partnership With Native Americans to help train 10,000 students at more than 50 Native-serving organizations by 2025 through the Grow with Google Indigenous Career Readiness Program. Over the next four years, we will provide digital skills curriculum and trainers to career services at Tribal Colleges and Universities and other Native-serving institutions. And because we know students are often at different starting points in their educational journeys, the program will also reach high school upperclassmen who are preparing for college and careers, as well as vocational and non-traditional students.
Celebrating artists, past and present
Today’s interactive Doodle, illustrated by Zuni Pueblo guest artist Mallery Quetawki, honors the late We:wa, a revered cultural leader and mediator within the Zuni tribe who devoted their life to the preservation of Zuni traditions and history. The late We:wa was also a fiber artist, weaver and potter, and in this interactive Doodle you can try the art of weaving yourself, while learning about Zuni people and listening to music created by the Zuni Olla Maidens. To discover more about the late We:wa, and the process of bringing this Doodle to life, check out the Behind the Doodle film. There will also be a fun celebratory surprise when you look up the late We:wa or Native American Heritage Month on Search.
This year’s Native American Heritage Month is an interactive Doodle by guest artist Mallery Quetawki that honors the late We:wa, a revered cultural leader and mediator within the Zuni tribe.
In collaboration with long-standing Google Arts & Culture partners including the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and Honoring Nations, among others, we’re spotlighting extraordinary stories of Indigenous art and culture. Dive into existing content from partners across the Americas – from the historic work of the Native American Code Talkers in the U.S. to the masters of the Totonac Spiritual Cuisine in Mexico – and celebrate the past and present of Indigenous cultures with a tour of the dizzying dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park and a look at contemporary Inuit ceramics.
If you’re interested in learning more about the rich culture and history of Native American communities, simply say “Hey Google, give me a fact about Native American Heritage” on any Google Assistant-enabled smart speaker, display or phone. When you do, you can explore some of the many contributions of Native Americans and hear about significant events in our shared history. There’s something new to discover every day throughout the month of November, including facts about the first Native American to earn an Academy Award nomination and how the Iroquois Confederacy influenced the U.S. constitution.
Keeping a global perspective
This year, U.S. Search Trend traffic for the term “Indigenous'' surpassed searches for “Native American” and “American Indian” for the first time, demonstrating a growing interest in Indigeneity. You can learn more about Search Trends related to Indigenous topics on our Native American Heritage Month Search Trend feature.
Earlier this year, we partnered with the National Congress of Americans (NCAI) to share Inclusive Marketing Guidelines for Indigenous people, which consist of recommendations and learnings to prevent stereotypes and promote authentic portrayals in marketing.
While November is when we celebrate Native American Heritage Month in the U.S., we are always celebrating Indigenous culture around the world. In Canada, we honored the life and efforts of Mary Two-Axe Early, a Kanien’keháka (Mohawk) woman who fought for more than two decades to challenge sex discrimination against First Nations women embedded in Canada’s Indian Act. We also continue to actively support the Indigenous Mapping Workshop, a collaborative effort across Indigenous communities to decolonize geographic resources and promote Indigenous rights and interests.
In Canada, Indigenous Peoples remain largely underrepresented in the technology workforce, so to begin to address this disparity, we have also invested in Indigenous education through a Google.org grant to ComIT, a tech-focused charity that provides IT training for Indigenous students and early career professionals facing employment barriers.
I am thankful that this month I am in Onyota’a:ka (Oneida) to celebrate with my family. I will have many bowls of o·nʌ́steˀ (Oneida White Corn) soup, one of our traditional crops that have been in the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) diet for hundreds of years. If you are looking for more ways to honor Indigenous people this month, I encourage you to take a moment to visit Native-Land.ca or the Native Land app which will show you what Indigenous land you are on.