NATIONAL NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE DAY – Day After Thanksgiving
President Barack Obama signs “The Native American Heritage Day Resolution 2009,” designating the Friday after Thanksgiving as “Native American Heritage Day.” The resolution had unanimous support in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.
In signing H.J. Res. 40 into law, President Obama stated, “I encourage every American to join me in observing Native American Heritage Day … It is also 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.”THEME Federal-Tribal RelationsREGION Arctic, California, Great Basin, Great Plains, Northeast, Northwest Coast, Plateau, Southeast, Southwest, Subarctic
November is Native American Heritage Month. This month was established to honor and recognize Native Americans as the first people of this nation and to celebrate both their cultural heritage and integral importance to our past, our present, and our future.
In 2009, President Barack Obama signed “The Native American Heritage Day Resolution,” designating the Friday after Thanksgiving as “Native American Heritage Day.” After signing H.J. Res 40 into law he stated, “I encourage every American to join me in observing Native American Heritage Day….It is also 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.”
The bill, however, was only formally supported by 184 out of 567 federally recognized tribes. Brian Perry, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and a Native Hope ambassador, shares his poignant thoughts about the highly commercial day that was chosen as the national day to honor the Native American heritage and people of our country. He states:
“As a Native American, I feel slighted. The day after Thanksgiving? Almost an afterthought. With November being Native American Heritage Month, there are 28 other days to select from with of course Thanksgiving having its long established day to itself. Why must we take a backseat to Thanksgiving? Why not the day before Thanksgiving?”
“The day after Thanksgiving is one of the most irrelevant days of the year. Most people are off work, families travel, and there is very little in the news cycle. What is the day after Thanksgiving known as in America? Black Friday—not Native American Heritage Day. It is a day when the American consumer plots out the best bargains at the best retailers at the best times to contribute to the American GDP.
Not a word or mention in the mainstream media about Native American Heritage Day, just videos of adults fist fighting at 4:00 in the morning in stores over the last trendy toy in stock for this year’s Season of Giving. Are we Native Americans the Forgotten America? Voices Unheard. When a national civil holiday occurs that hardly anyone knows about…I begin to wonder.”
We are on a journey to break down the barriers that have threatened to silence the Native American voices that deserve to be heard and acknowledged. We invite you to join us in sharing inspirational stories of hope, love, power, and fortitude. Stories of real people fighting to hold on to their heritage while striving towards a future where their culture and their people thrive.
NATIONAL NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE DAY
National Native American Heritage Day on the day after Thanksgiving honors American Indians across the nation. The day celebrates the vibrant cultures, traditions, and heritages while recognizing the many contributions Native Americans have made.
The day encourages listening to Native American voices and fostering pride in the vibrant and layered heritage that’s embedded deep within our society.
In the United States today, Native Americans contribute to society daily. Whether through art or government, their insight and perspective elevate an art form or a district. They serve in the military, the medical and legal fields. Their knowledge wins battles large and small.
Carol Metcalf-Gardipe – Geologist
Ms. Gardipe’s many roles include director of the American Indian Engineering Program (the first of its kind) and one of seven founders of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES). She is also a professor, administrator, and an award-winning geologist who held positions with the U.S. Geological Survey, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.
Lila Downs – Musician
The Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter immigrated from Oaxaca, Mexico, and has been singing since she was eight-years-old. While her Latin style speaks to a global audience, her music also has heavy jazz influences.
Deb Haaland (Rep-D)
Representative Haaland was elected to Congress in 2019 from New Mexico’s 1st District. She has served on the Armed Services Committee and Natural Resources Committee. Both parents served in the U.S. Military. Her father was in the Marines and her mother in the Navy.
Emory Sekaquaptewa – Anthropologist
Hopi linguist, anthropologist, scholar, educator, artist, and appellate court judge, Emory Sekaquaptewa is best known for developing the first Hopi language dictionary.
Master Sgt. Woodrow W. Keeble
In 2008, Keeble became the first full-blooded Sioux Indian to receive the Medal of Honor. During a battle in the Korean War, his actions saved the lives of fellow Soldiers. He was born in 1917 in Waubay, SD, but spent most of his life growing up near Wahpeton, ND. As the war heated up in Europe, Keeble joined the North Dakota National Guard in 1942. His service included World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He earned the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts and the Combat Infantryman Badge in addition to the Medal of Honor.
HOW TO OBSERVE #NativeAmericanHeritageDay
To celebrate Native American Heritage Day, try any of the following:
- Read a story about or by a Native American.
- Visit one of many Native American museums, heritage centers, or historical sights.
- Try a delicious Native American recipe.
- Algonquin Wild Nut Soup
- Posole with Red Chile
- Watch a movie or documentary about or by a Native American.
- Participate in or watch a game of Lacrosse.
- Attend one of many seminars, performances, or events honoring Native American culture across the country.
Use #NativeAmericanHeritageDay to post on social media.
NATIVE AMERICAN HISTORY DAY HISTORY
Riding horseback from state to state in 1914, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, sought endorsement from 24 states in support of a national day recognizing and honoring Native Americans. He presented these endorsements to the White House the following year. While no national day was proclaimed, the state of New York declared the second Saturday in May as American Indian Day.
In 1986, the 99th Congress passed a joint resolution authorizing the President to proclaim the week of November 23-30, 1986, as American Indian Week. President Ronald Reagan declared the first American Indian week that year and each year following of his presidency. President George H.W. Bush continued the proclamations until 1990 when he approved a joint resolution to declare November as National American Indian Heritage Month. This tradition has continued annually. In 2008 the Native American Heritage Day Act was enacted by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush on October 8, 2008.