National Native American Heritage Month – November 2021
American Indian Day; extended now to a monthly celebration called National Native American Heritage Month, was originally championed by Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, who was the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, N.Y. Parker persuaded the popular Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the “First Americans”. In 1915, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe and the Congress of the American Indian Association meet in Lawrence, Kansas to formally compose a plan concerning American Indian Day – summoning the country to observe such a day. Coolidge issued a decree 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 Natives as citizens.
In 1916, New York was the first state to declare the second Saturday in May as American Indian Day. Some states would celebrate on the fourth Friday in September. More recently, several states have designated Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. On October 8, 2021, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. declared the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day (although it is not yet recognized as a federal holiday, which will require an act of Congress).
By 1990, President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November as “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.
A proclamation on National Native American Heritage Month, 2021 by President Joseph R. Biden Jr.:
“The United States of America was founded on an idea: that all of us are created equal and deserve equal treatment, equal dignity, and equal opportunity throughout our lives. Throughout our history — though we have always strived to live up to that idea and have never walked away from it — the fact remains that we have fallen short many times. Far too often in our founding era and in the centuries since, the promise of our Nation has been denied to Native Americans who have lived on this land since time immemorial.
Despite a painful history marked by unjust Federal policies of assimilation and termination, American Indian and Alaska Native peoples have persevered. During National Native American Heritage Month, we celebrate the countless contributions of Native peoples past and present, honor the influence they have had on the advancement of our Nation, and recommit ourselves to upholding trust and treaty responsibilities, strengthening Tribal sovereignty, and advancing Tribal self-determination.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated preexisting inequities facing Tribal Nations. Early in the pandemic, reported cases in the Native American community were over 3 times the rate of white Americans; in some States, Native American lives were lost at a rate 5 times their population share. Even as they shouldered a disproportionate burden throughout the pandemic, Tribal Nations have been paragons of resilience, determination, and patriotism — implementing key mitigation strategies like testing and prioritizing the vaccination of Tribal communities at high rates in order to save lives. Through it all, Tribal Nations have effectively utilized the tools of Tribal self-governance to protect and lead their communities, setting a standard for all of our communities to follow…” READ MORE
Take a moment to celebrate and learn more about the history of Native Americans right here in Florida. There are considerable historic locations, educational seminars and informational websites to visit, including The Dade Battlefield Historic Park in Tampa, Mound Key Archaeological State Park in Estero or Fort Matanzas and Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine – From various tribes, such as the Seminole and Timucua Tribes or the Apalachee and Yemassee Tribes, Florida has always had a rich, extensive history with Native Americans and their outstanding contributions to the society we live in today.