LOUISVILLE, Ky. — For more than two decades, a Kentucky commission has recognized the contributions and influence of Native American history.
“I think a lot of people are not aware that we have such a great Native American population here in Kentucky, from the last census, there are over 90,000 people who identify as American Indian,” Tressa Brown said.
Brown is a Historic Preservation Coordinator for the Kentucky Heritage Council, which is comprised of the Kentucky Native American, Kentucky African American Heritage Commission and the Martin Luther King, Jr. State Commission.
The goal of the commission is to help Kentuckians understand the histories, cultures and matters of concern to Native American peoples.
“Key components of the African American and Native American Commission's is working to preserve history and heritage, which with the Heritage Council, that's looking at buildings, sites, archaeological resources and things like that,” she said.
Brown talks about her experience.
“I'm a cultural anthropologist, so my academic background and most experiences with the Native history. But it intersects so frequently with the African American history here in Kentucky, that it has been quite a privilege and a great interest learn more about the African American history here and try to assist folks in preserving and promoting that history.”
Brown says even 100 years ago, the primary tribal representations here would have been Shawnee, Cherokee, and Chickasaw just to name a few.
Since the 2010 census, there were nearly 200 different tribes represented in Kentucky.
Brown dispels a myth about the non-existence of Native Americans in the Bluegrass.
“There's this myth that no native people lived permanently in Kentucky prior to European settlement here. That is completely and wholly fabrication. Native people have been living in Kentucky permanently for 10,000 years. There has never been a time when there were no native People living in Kentucky. So, we have a long, deep a diverse history of American Indians here in Kentucky.
The commission offers a variety of educational materials for teachers to help students learn about the histories of Native Americans, including topics focusing on social issues, stereotypes, literature and who they are today.
To learn more about the history of Native Americans in Kentucky Heritage Commission, click here.