Native American Heritage Day is celebrated on November 26 every year in the United States to honour the Indigenous people, their cultures, traditions, heritages, and contributions. “Native-American,” “Indigenous People,” and “Indian American” are interchangeable terms used for the first peoples of present-day US, who were dispossessed from their lands by European settler colonists.

History And Significance of Native American Heritage Day

Native Americans weren’t considered citizens of the US until the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, and even after that some weren’t allowed to vote because the right to vote was governed by state law. “Until 1957, some states barred Native Americans from voting,” according to the Library of Congress.

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In 1914, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, travelled on horseback across 24 states to seek support for a national day recognising and honouring Native Americans. He presented the endorsements to the White House the following year to no avail. Only the state of New York declared the second Saturday in May as American Indian Day.

In 1986, the 99th Congress passed a joint resolution authorising the President to proclaim November 23-30, 1986, as American Indian Week.

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President Ronald Reagan declared the first American Indian week that year and each year following his presidency. President George HW Bush continued the proclamations until 1990, when he approved a joint resolution to declare November as National American Indian Heritage Month. In 2008, the Native American Heritage Day Act was enacted by Congress and signed by President George W Bush on October 8, 2008.

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HOW TO OBSERVE #NativeAmericanHeritageDay

People can celebrate Native American Heritage Day by reading a story about or by a Native American. They can also visit one of the many Native American museums, heritage centers, or historical sights. Other ways to mark the day include trying a Native American recipe; watching a movie or documentary about or by a Native American; or by attending seminars, performances, or events honoring Native American culture across the country.

Those wishing to celebrate the day virtually can use #NativeAmericanHeritageDay to post on social media.