Heritage

Interior Employees Raise Concerns After Department Celebrates ‘European Heritage Month’

The Interior Department celebrated European Heritage Month in August, an unusual move that has caused some employees to feel uneasy. 

Interior published an online monthly magazine as part of that celebration, which highlighted the history and accomplishments of various European cultures in the United States. While the same publication put out previous issues that focused on other groups such as LGBTQ and Asian Americans, the publication caused a stir among some employees who saw the celebration as insensitive and improperly promoting ideals related to white pride.

Employees at Interior said they could not recall Interior ever recognizing European Heritage Month previously, with one saying the department “made up their own commemorative month.” The publication was put together by the head of “special emphasis programs” at the Interior Business Center, though the magazine is labeled as a publication of Interior’s Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administrative Services. A division of Interior’s Office of Civil Rights, the department’s special emphasis programs website lists nearly a dozen events and groups as part of its observance policy and European heritage is not one of them. There does not appear to be any national recognition of August as European Heritage Month. 

Some Interior workers who were aware of the publication became annoyed and angry about it, one employee said. The message appeared to promote a “white lives matter” ideology, said the individual, who requested anonymity out of fear of retaliation, and was especially troubling “during a time of civil awakening.” 

Steve Carlisle, the editor of the magazine, told Government Executive he had no intention of making a political statement and did not want to “insult anybody or hurt anybody.” He said he and his colleagues gave “a lot of consideration” to the potential blowback of publishing the issue, but ultimately decided it was