National Native American Heritage Month
By Sharon Schweitzer
National Native American Heritage Month is celebrated each year in November. It is a time to celebrate the traditions, languages and stories of Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and affiliated Island communities and ensure their rich histories and contributions continue to thrive with each passing generation. This November and every month, we celebrate the culture and heritage of these remarkable Americans who deeply enrich the quality and character of our Nation. We celebrate Indian Country with its remarkable diversity of American Indian and Alaska Native cultures and peoples while remembering and honoring our veterans who have sacrificed so much to defend our Nation.
In 1990 Congress passed and President George H. W. Bush signed into law a joint resolution designating the month of November as the first National American Indian Heritage Month (also known as Native American Indian Month). “American Indians were the original inhabitants of the lands that now constitute the United States of America,” noted H.J. Res. 577. “Native American Indians have made an essential and unique contribution to our Nation” and “to the world.”
Introduced by Hawaii senator Daniel Inouye and congressional delegate Eni Faloemavaega of American Samoa, the joint resolution stated that “the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation calling upon Federal, State, and local governments, interested groups and organizations, and the people of the United States to observe the month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.” In 2008 the commemorative language was amended to also include the contributions of Alaskan Natives. Every year, by statute and/or presidential proclamation, the month of November is recognized as National Native American Heritage Month.
This year’s theme at Interior is Celebrating Tribal Sovereignty and Identity. Tribal sovereignty ensures that any decisions about Tribes with regard to their property and citizens are made with their participation and consent. The federal trust responsibility is a legal obligation under which the United States “has charged itself with moral obligations of the highest responsibility and trust” toward Indian tribes.
The National Archives holds hundreds of thousands of U.S. Government records relating to Native Americans, from as early as 1774 through the mid-1990s. These include original treaties signed with Native Americans, records from the Indian Schools, Indian Census Rolls, and Bureau of Indian Affairs records.
Today, 28 states and many cities, rivers and lakes have names derived from Native American heritage. Native Americans and Alaska Natives are people having origins in any of the original peoples of North, South and Central America, and who maintain tribal affiliation or community attachment. According to the U.S. Census, there were 5.2 million American Indians and Alaskan Natives living in the U. S. in 2010; 7.1 million American Indians and Alaskan Natives living in the U. S. in 2020; and there are projected to be 10.1 million American Indians and Alaskan Natives living in the U. S. by July 2060.
Photo by gatorcare.org
Sharon Schweitzer JD, is a diversity and inclusion consultant, cross-cultural trainer, etiquette expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre, she is an attorney and mediator. Sharon served as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, won a coveted Kirkus Star, and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of numerous awards, including the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.
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