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Native American Heritage Month

By Lifestance Health on November 30, 2021

November is Native American Heritage Month, a month of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S.

But all too often people will use phrases or slang that are disrespectful to Native Americans. Jacqueline Vorpahl, PhD, a LifeStance Health Psychologist in Massachusetts and a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma highlights some to eliminate from the workplace or any setting.

Saying someone is “low man on the totem pole”

Why it’s harmful: To imply that somebody has less power or influence than others by saying they are “low man on the totem pole” is not only dismissive of some Native religions in the Northwest, but is also inaccurate. These carvings portray stories of lineage, mythology and important events. Totem poles are symbols of prestige in a community. And often, the figure portrayed at the bottom is the most significant.

Describing an informal get-together a “powwow”

Why it’s harmful: Powwows are significant, meaningful cultural celebrations in many Indigenous co