History of Native American Heritage Month

In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association formally approved a plan concerning American Indian Day. It directed its president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge to call upon the country to observe such a day. Coolidge issued a proclamation on Sept. 28, 1915, which declared the second Saturday of each May as an American Indian Day and contained the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens.

The year before this proclamation was issued, Red Fox James rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. On December 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House. There is no record, however, of such a national day being proclaimed.

The first American Indian Day in a state was declared in May 1916 by the governor of New York. Several states celebrate the fourth Friday in September.

In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants names (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994.

Source:

“About National Native American Heritage Month.” Library of Congress. https://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov/about/.  (accessed on November 16, 2017).

 

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