Native American Heritage Month

America is a vast land of many cultures dating back thousands of years to the original inhabitants of the land. The history and heritage of Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Island communities are part of all national parks today. Throughout the year, and especially during November during Native American Heritage Month, the National Park Service and their partners celebrate together the rich traditions, languages, and contributions of Indigenous people.

 

Let’s honor the history, culture, and contributions of Indigenous people.

 

What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S., has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose.

 

The first American Indian Day in a state was declared on the second Saturday in May 1916 by the governor of New York. Several states celebrate the fourth Friday in September. In Illinois, for example, legislators enacted such a day in 1919. Presently, several states have designated Columbus Day as Native American Day, but it continues to be a day we observe without any recognition as a national legal holiday. In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994.

 

Resources

National Archives

National Endowment for the Humanities (EDSITEment)

National Park Service

Smithsonian Education

Native American Heritage Month