National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NNHAAD) is a national mobilization effort designed to encourage American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians across the United States and Territorial Areas to get educated, get tested, get involved in prevention and get treated for HIV.
NNHAAD was founded in 2007 by three collaborating agencies whom at the time were called the National Native Capacity Building Assistance (CBA) Network, which included Commitment to Action for 7th-Generation Awareness & Educations (CA7AE), Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. (ITCA), and National Native American AIDS Prevention Center (NNAAPC)]. The three network agencies were funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide capacity building assistance to Native organizations, tribes, state health departments and any Native-serving organizations. Since the founding of NNHAAD, the collaborative partnership has grown to include Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board, Inc., Begaye Consulting, Center for Prevention and Wellness, Council Oaks Training and Evaluation, Inc., ETR’s Community Impact Solutions Project, Florida Department of Health – HIV Section, Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, Northwest Portland Indian Health Board, and Indian Health Service National HIV/AIDS Program.
In support of NNHAAD, the National Native CBA Network presented resolution SAC-06-002 to the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) in October of 2006. The resolution was approved for support of the National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day held on March 21, 2007.
Why the First Day of Spring?
The first day of Spring was the chosen as the date to celebrate National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This day was chosen by individuals in the community who had participated in a national survey to determine what day would be most appropriate. It was acknowledged that in many Native cultures across the United States, the four seasons are highly respected because they closely represent the cycle of life. Spring also represents a time of equality and balance and is the only day when day and night are at equal lengths. It is considered a time of profound change, new beginnings and birth; A celebration of life for all people.
The cycle of life is defined by the change in seasons, and ceremonies are held to recognize the passing of one season and the beginning of another.
The Nalukatak, or spring whaling festival, takes place at the end of the whaling season. One purpose of this festival is to win the favor of the spirits of the deceased whales and to ensure the success of future hunting seasons.
The Woodland Tribes
The Woodland Tribes celebrate the Green Corn Ceremony to mark the emergence of the first ears of corn which represent the ideal relationship between humans and the corn plants upon which they depend for their existence.
For Native Hawaiians and many of their Polynesian cousins, the season of Makahiki begins with the first sighting of the rising of the Pleiades in the heavens. The rising of the Pleiades is the time when the sun turns northward and plants flourish and fish spawn. It is the season to give tribute to Lono, the god of cultivation. The seasons of Makahiki is a time of peace.