Native American Day in Arizona
Along with Arizona’s 22 indigenous tribes, Arizona State Senator Jamescita Peshlakai is already planning a grand celebration for June 2, 2019. The reason for the party? This date will mark the very first Native American Day in Arizona, a holiday brought about by Jamescita herself.
Jamescita, a member of the Navajo Nation and U.S. Army veteran who served in the Gulf War, has been on a successful run of recognitions in 2018. In March of this year, she sponsored memorial actions to rename three Arizona highways after Native American veterans, legislation that passed unanimously.
Then, in April, she introduced SB 1235, which would establish June 2 as Native American Day, an official Arizona holiday. Because of the mandatory 90-day waiting period for the law to take effect, the first observance of the Native American Day holiday will take place in 2019, which should give Native communities around the state plenty of time to prepare celebrations.
Currently, only a handful of other states hold celebrations of Native American Day, including California, Nevada, South Dakota, and Tennessee. Because these observations are instituted at the state level, the exact date of celebration is not fixed. Additionally, many across the U.S. celebrate Indigenous People’s Day on and instead of Columbus Day, as a way of accurately portraying the role Native Americans play in this country’s history and society.
As more grassroots efforts are made to recognize and celebrate Native Americans, their history, and continuing contributions to our culture, more states will move to recognize sanctioned holidays that remind citizens to take a moment and reflect on our Native American citizens.