By Denisse Carranza, Senior
What comes to mind when you think of November? You’re probably thinking of Autumn or Thanksgiving. Like most people, you may not know that November celebrates Native American Heritage month. Vincent Schilling, an award-winning Native American author, producer, and photojournalist, asked people to describe the month of November. Out of everyone interviewed, only one person knew about Native American Heritage month.
The National Congress of American Indians, “founded in 1944, is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization serving the broad interests of tribal governments and communities,” describes Native American Heritage month as a celebration of their culture, traditions, and histories. The month also acknowledges the hardships they endured through history and in present time. Heritage month was first introduced in the early 1900s by Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian. He persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to make a day for the “First Americans,” and they were able to adopt it for three years. In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association met and approved a plan for American Indian Day. Calvin Coolidge, who was president at the time, issued the first proclamation on September 28, 1915. Coolidge declared the second Saturday of each May as American Indian Day. His proclamation is considered as the first formal appeal for recognition of Native Americans as citizens. This year, President Trump proclaimed November 2017 as National Native American Heritage Month and November 25th as Native American Heritage Day.
Despite the proclamations made in the past years, Native American Heritage is not recognized as a national legal holiday. Even so, some states have been able to pass legislation to consider it a legal holiday in their state. According to David Montgomery, a politics and government writer for Argus Leader (a part of the USA Today Network), California and Tennessee officially celebrate the day in September. South Dakota instead chooses to honor Native Americans’ Day on Columbus day. Hopefully, it will be celebrated nationwide one day! In the meantime, learn more about Native American heritage.
“About the Author: Vincent Schilling” Indian Country Media Network, https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/author/vincent-schilling/. Accessed 20 Nov 2017.
Montgomery, David. “In S.D., it's Native Americans' Day, not Columbus Day” Argus Leader. 13 Oct 2014. Web. 20 Nov 2017.
“National American Indian Heritage Month.” Library of Congress. 6 Nov 2017, https://www.loc.gov/law/help/commemorative-observations/american-indian.php. Accessed 20 Nov 2017.
“Native American Heritage Month.” National Congress of American Indians, http://www.ncai.org/initiatives/native-american-heritage-month. Accessed 20 Nov 2017.
National Native American Heritage Month, https://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov, Accessed 20 Nov 2017.
“President Donald J. Trump Proclaims November 2017 as National Native American Heritage Month” The White House, Office of the Press Secretary. 31 Oct 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/10/31/president-donald-j-trump-proclaims-november-2017-national-native. Accessed 20 Nov 2017.
“We Asked: Did You Know November is Native American Heritage Month?” Youtube, uploaded by Indian Country Today, 14 Nov 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ku-t7pCvwTw
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