Kentucky Heritage Council
Join the KY Native American Heritage Commission in commemorating American Indian Heritage Month

Press Release Date:  Monday, November 03, 2014  
Revision Date:  Monday, November 03, 2014 
Contact Information:  Diane Comer
(502) 564-7005 Ext. 120

FRANKFORT, Ky. – November has been proclaimed American Indian Heritage Month in Kentucky by Gov. Steve Beshear, with several events planned across the Commonwealth. This is the 10th anniversary of the annual designation.
The Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission will kick off the month with a meeting at 1 p.m. today at Paul Sawyier Public Library in Frankfort. The commission was established under the auspices of the Kentucky Heritage Council/State Historic Preservation Office (KHC), to recognize and promote Native American contributions and influence in Kentucky history and culture. The body is made up of 17 members, eight of whom are required to be of Native American heritage, and includes representatives from institutions of higher learning, archaeology, Native American arts and the public.

American Indian Heritage Month imageAccording to Helen Danser of Tyner, commission chair, many misperceptions and stereotypes exist about Native American Indian cultures.

“We hope the work we do is helping to clarify some of these, and continuing to add to our understanding of Native American contributions to our society,” she said. “For example, one common misperception is that all native people shared a similar way of life, when in reality, customs and language could differ greatly among tribes – just as they did, for example, in European cultures. Hundreds of years ago, just as today, there is a great deal of cultural diversity among American Indian tribes in terms of music, art, religious practice and traditions.”
The most prominent event will be a reception and exhibit featuring award-winning Cherokee artist Donald Vann, from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7, at First Southern Arts Center in Stanford, free and open to the public. Vann will discuss his work and heritage, and his paintings will be exhibited at the gallery through the weekend, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Entertainment for the reception will be provided by Navajo flutist Fred Nez-Keams.

Vann is largely known for his portrayal of the Trail of Tears, and has been proclaimed “one of the best-known Indian artists of the 20th century” by the Cherokee National Historical Society. He has also been recognized as “Artist of the 20th Century” and “National Treasure” by the Cherokee Nation.

Other activities will include a public display focusing on Kentucky Native American history at the State Capitol, and presentations throughout the month by Tressa Brown, KHC commission coordinator. These include information sharing at the 2014 East and Midwest Multi-Regional Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Training, Tuesday through Thursday at the Brown Hotel in Louisville; three presentations at Burgin Elementary School, Nov. 10; a Native American Heritage Observance Presentation on Pow Wows to the Corps of Engineers in Louisville, Nov. 12; and a Native American Heritage Observance Presentation on Myths and Stereotypes for a school group, Nov. 25 at the Patton Museum in Fort Knox.

Kentucky Native American Heritage Month was established by the Legislature in 1998 to recognize the contributions of Native Americans to Kentucky history and culture. According to the gubernatorial proclamation, “American Indians have lived in Kentucky for more than 12,000 years and have made significant contributions to Kentucky’s rich cultural heritage… We recognize the past, present, and future contributions that American Indians have made and continue to make to enhance the quality of life of all Kentuckians.”

For more, visit For a high-resolution file of the commemorative poster, click here [PDF - 607KB]

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An agency of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, the Kentucky Heritage Council/State Historic Preservation Office is responsible for the identification, protection and preservation of archaeological resources and historic buildings, sites and cultural resources throughout the Commonwealth, in partnership with other state and federal agencies, local communities and interested citizens. This mission is integral to making communities more livable and has a far-ranging impact on issues as diverse as economic development, jobs creation, affordable housing, heritage tourism, community revitalization, environmental conservation and quality of life.
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