This November, the Office of Diversity and Equity celebrates Native American Heritage Month (NAHM).
With Thanksgiving, a holiday known to be controversial for Native American history, just around the corner, visibility of Native Americans during this month is particularly important. NAHM recognizes the contributions that native peoples have made for our community. It is a time to celebrate the diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of our local tribes and also educate ourselves about the challenges Native people have faced and currently face, including health disparities.
Native Americans face a large number of behavioral health challenges, including suicide risk. Across all ages, American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/ AN) populations in the U.S. experience high risk for suicide, with an overall suicide rate of 11.7 individuals per 100,000. This rate is greater than that for all other subgroups except white males, who have a suicide rate of 23.4 individuals per 100,000. Source
The existence of Native American Heritage Month alone does not have the capability to improve the lives or health outcomes of Native Americans living in San Mateo County. We as individuals and as a community must make an active effort to celebrate Native American achievements and educate ourselves about current challenges to make the month meaningful.