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Former President Barack Obama designated the Friday after Thanksgiving Native American Heritage Day in 2009 according to Native Hope on Nov. 25, 2020. After the H.J. Res. 40 was signed, Obama stated,
It is important to understand the rich culture, tradition, and history of Native Americans and their status today, and to appreciate the contributions that First Americans have made and will continue to make to our Nation, I encourage every one to join me in observing Native American Heritage Day.
The month of November is used to honor their people as the first people of this nation. They also celebrate their culture and heritage.
A citizen of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and Native Hope ambassador Brian Perry stated,
Why must we take the backseat to Thanksgiving? I feel slighted as an Native American. The day after thanksgiving? Like an after thought. The month of November being Native American Heritage Month. Why not the day before Thanksgiving?
The day after Thanksgivning is known in U.S. as black friday, it is one of the most irrelevant days of the year. Most people are off work and traveling. The maimstream media do not cover anything about the designated day. Are we the forgotten Americans?
It is the day that consumers plots out the best bargains at the best retailers, to contribute to American GDP. He continued:
Different tribes pass down their traditions through ceremonies. During their ceremonies, they would dance, eat, and play instruments. They sing songs that have been passed down for many generations. They would also practice rituals that have been passed down. The different tribes wear their traditional clothing and headwear to honor their history.
Things to do During Native American Heritage Month
Native Americans have been faced with injustice, discrimination, and hardship since the beginning when European settlers first stepped foot on this land. The month gives Americans time to acknowledge the important contributions of Indigenous people to society. The month is also a time to honor their history and find solutions to the struggles they face as a whole, according to “Parade Magazine” on November 25.
To honor Native American Heritage awareness, people around the United States can spread the news about the month on social media. They can research how many tribes are in the U.S. and find out the preferred terms between Alaska Natives, American Indians, Native Americans, and Indigenous people.
People can take the time to find out the history and how they helped during World War I and World War II. They can learn about how they had a major influence on the game of hockey.
15 Facts About National Native American Heritage Month
- November is also known as American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month.
- Dr. Arthur C. Parker of the Seneca Nation fought for American Indian Day to be recognized by the Boy Scouts of America around 1912 and 1915.
- In September 1955, Reverend Sherman Coolidge, the President of Congress of the American Indian Association, pushed to make American Indian Day observed. Also, he fought for the Native Americans to have the right to get U.S. citizenship.
- In 1924 all Native Americans were granted citizenship after congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act.
- In May 1916, the first American Indian Day took place in New York.
- In 1989 South Dakota became the first to celebrate the day.
- In October 1976, former President Gerald R. Ford proclaimed a week-long observance for American Indians. They called it the Native American Awareness Week.
- President H.W. Bush dedicated November as National American Indian Heritage Month in 1990, but in 2009 former President Obama changed the name to National Native American Heritage Month.
- Many state-level laws prevented Native Americans from voting in 1924, although they were allowed to vote. It took over 40 years following 1924 for all states to allow them to vote.
- In 2019 there were about 6.9 million indigenous people in the U.S.
- 229 different federal recognized tribes out of 574 are located in Alaska.
- They believe in tribal sovereignty, which means they govern themselves.
- In 2019 there were 324 federal recognized Native American land reservations.
- Seventy-eight percent of Native Americans do not live in their tribal area.
Written by Jessica Letcher
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
Native Hope: Native American Heritage Day
Parade: Celebrate Native American Heritage Month With 25 Native American Heritage Facts; Kelsey Pelzer
Featured Image Courtesy of Bob Dass’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of rentonr’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License