National Native American Heritage Month


When the month of November comes around, the first thing that comes to mind is the national holiday, Thanksgiving. Some might be unaware that there is also a very significant civil holiday that lasts all of November called National Native American Month as well as Native American Heritage Day, which is celebrated on November 26th, the day after Thanksgiving. 

Native American Heritage Month is a time to remember and celebrate Native Americans and their important role in American history.  Also, it’s a day to acknowledge Native American culture, traditions, and more within the community. 

National Native American Heritage Month begins all the way back to the 1900’s with a man named Dr. Arthur Caswell Parker, a Seneca Indian who was the director for Rochester Museum of Arts and Science. Parker was one of the first known advocates for the Native American community and went on to be a founder in multiple American Indians Organizations developing at the time such as Society of American Indians and National Council of American Indians. In 1914, a man by the name of Red Fox James, Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback for 4,000 miles to reach Washington D.C to petition for “Indian Day.” 

After a long fight from multiple advocates and associates to get regenitates for native americans and their ancestors, In 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed a joint resolution designating November becoming National Native American Heritage Month. 

In 2009, former President Barack Obama signed the “Native American Heritage Day Act” which will be a civil holiday to acknowledge Native American and their cultural heritage. The Native American Heritage Day happens on November 26, the day after Thanksgiving. 

Some may wonder, “why celebrate Native Americans and their culture?” or “what is significant about Native Americans?” Even with such a vibrant culture, Native American history has a very dark history. Native Americans were the native people in America. Expeditioners came to American shores and instead of embracing the land and people, they took it from the native people. As more and more settlers came, tribes slowly disappeared, cultures were destroyed, and land and people sold with barely anyone to continue their story. Many were separated from families due to the placement of reservations. For the Native Americans who survived, they were forced to live on reservations in the west and other areas in the United States.

Today, Native Americans continue their culture and teach it to their children who will then teach theirs. Native Americans consist of a culture greater than we could imagine with so much for us to learn. They deserve to have a month and day in dedication for their sacrifice and the light they have on our nation. 

Happy Thanksgiving and National Native American Heritage Month!