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MAIN Arrow to Home Life - HolidaysHolidays & Observances Arrow to Native American Month Native American Heritage Month

Native American Month History & EventsThe events leading up to the declaration of Native American Heritage Month began in the early 20th century. That's when the American Indian Association declared the second Saturday day in May as American Indian Day in 1915.

No formal national recognition of the day was forthcoming -- so that same year a Blackfoot Indian, Red Fox James, rode to the White House on horseback to present the endorsements from 24 state governments -- but again, without success.

In 1915, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode
on horseback from state to state, seeking support
for designation of a day to honor American Indians.

The following year, the governor of New York finally recognized the importance of such a day and declared American Indian Day as the second Saturday in May in 1916. Several states followed, but no national recognition of the contributions of native Americans would be decided upon until decades later.

It was only in 1990 when President George H.W. Bush approved a joint resolution that designated the entire month of November as "Native American Heritage Month". It was a landmark bill honoring America’s tribal people and gave Native Americans a national platform on which to express their pride as the First Americans.

also see -> Black History Month

All about Native American Heritage Month

Today, Native American Heritage Month is observed with local, regional and state ceremonies, as well as dance performances, food tastings and other cultural events.

Special exhibitions that celebrate the rich history and culture of American Indians at the National Museum of the American Indian in both New York and Washington. Out West, a treasure trove of American Indian heritage can be discovered traveling through New Mexico with a detailed guide for 14 Ways to Celebrate Native American Heritage Month within the state.

How else to celebrate Native American Heritage Month

• Who lived there first? Find out what tribal land you are currently living on with a cool interactive map of original tribal boundaries.

• The early American colonies survived only due to native folk wisdom and expert land use. Today, you can find plants and herbs native to your area -- and maybe help save the planet in the process!

Visit a US national park that celebrates Native American heritage.

• For teachers, there are dozens of classroom resources for Native American Heritage Month courtesy of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

• Grab the popcorn and stream any one of several fine PBS documentaries about Native American heritage.


Nationwide, the annual Rock Your Mocs celebration on November 15 encourages
everyone to wear moccasins to show support for the American Indian community.

Native American Heritage Month portrait gallery

A rich photographic record of Native Americans also endures today in such works by photographers as Edward S. Curtis and Hermann Heyn that vividly portray the pride and humanity of Native Americans of the Old West.

apache scout on horseback, 1900s
Nez Percé man, 1900's
crow scout, 1908
Crow scout, 1908
hopi mother, 1922
Hopi mother, 1922

Above, the legacy of American photographer Edward S. Curtis (1868 - 1952) endures today
as a rich pictorial record of the pride and humanity of Native Americans of the Old West.

Over a ten year period (1890-1900), the Heyn photography studio in Omaha, Nebraska,
took studio portraits of local Dakota Sioux that are now preserved in the Library of Congress.

More about Native American Heritage Month around the Web:

Just up ahead, find out more about the observance at online exhibits and presentations, together with teaching resources, coloring pages, activities and information about how native Americans celebrated with the early Pilgrims on the first historic Thanksgiving Day ...

National American Heritage Month
- A nod from the U.S. government featuring a schedule of events, a history of the day & related resources.

Index of Native American History Resources on the Internet - Here's an excellent resource to related sites by U.S. region, Canada and Mexico with historical timelines, photo and picture archives, and suggested reading.


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