November Celebrates American Indian Heritage Month & Native American Heritage Day
President George H.W. Bush first proclaimed American Indian Heritage Month in 1990. Soon after, in 1991, Congress passed a Senate joint resolution requesting that Heritage Month be recognized each November thereafter—and it has been. The National Museum of the American Indian also promotes American Indian and Alaska Native heritage throughout the month of November, and each federal agency has their own way of honoring Native American culture and heritage.
This is an apt remembrance given that the contributions of the First Americans long preceded and continued after the first Thanksgiving. President Barack Obama added to this recognition when, on November 25, 2009, he encouraged every American to observe the Friday after Thanksgiving as Native American Heritage Day, stating:
“…it is important for all of us 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.”
In observance of American Indian Heritage Month, Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) is hosting a “30-Day Spotlight on Native America” to help raise awareness about Native American culture, contributions and their concerns over the centuries that still apply today. Throughout November, check out our #NativeHeritage landing page daily for new content, prizes and actions you can take to get involved: www.nrcprograms.org/nativeheritage.
The growing interest in acknowledging American Indians is a century old—it dates back to 1916 when states first began establishing a Native American Day to honor, recognize and appreciate the indigenous cultures so integral to the U.S. The day of celebration varies by state, with September to November being the most popular months.
With a landmark move in 1990, the state of South Dakota—home to nine tribes—changed Columbus Day to Native American Day. In Arizona, home to 22 tribes, the city of Phoenix now hosts Recognition Days that span all of October and November. PWNA observes Native American Day as a national holiday on the Friday after Thanksgiving, in recognition of our Native staff, reservation partners and 250,000 Native Americans PWNA serves each year.
Will you take a minute to tell us how your state celebrates American Indian Heritage Month or when it celebrates Native American Day? Please share in the comments section, below, or on your social media channels with the #NativeHeritage hashtag.