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Here are some fascinating tidbits about Native American Heritage Month and the people it is meant to celebrate.
The United States is now home to over 9 million Native Americans and Native Americans. And with over 500 federally recognized tribes, there are hundreds of different cultures as unique as the people they represent. From works of art and literature to cuisine and music, there is a lot to appreciate and learn.
While many Native Americans refer to it as Indians, the National Museum of the American Indian points out that it is best to use the individual tribal name when possible. In the United States, Native American is the most common term, but many Native Americans prefer the terms American Indian or Indigenous American instead. When in doubt, always ask people what their favorite name is.
Every November we celebrate Native American Heritage Month, also known as American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. It is an opportunity to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and stories, and important contributions of Native Americans, and to recognize their hardships and struggles in both history and the present.
In case you need a brush up on your education about Native American people and the reasons we celebrate their heritage this month (or looking for fun facts to share over the Thanksgiving table), here are some fascinating Facts about Native American Heritage Month and the people who celebrate it.
In 1916, Red Fox James, a member of the Blackfeet Nation, rode state to state seeking approval from 24 state governments to hold a day in honor of the Indians. This led to the very first American Indian Day. It took place in New York and took place on the second Saturday in May 1916. Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, NY, persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to have a day for the First Americans in 1915.
The Native American Heritage Month originally emerged from the « American Indian Week, » which President Reagan proclaimed in the week of November 23-30, 1986. In 1990 President George HW Bush passed a joint resolution in which November 1990 was designated « National American Indian Heritage Month ». It was later changed to Native American Heritage Month under President Barack Obama.
President Joseph Biden was the first to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day as a national holiday, which will now take place on October 11th each year. For many people it is a counter-celebration to Columbus Day, a federal holiday that falls on the same day
When Europe « discovered » America, 50 million Indians and indigenous peoples were already living there. Of those, 10 million were in the United States.
In 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act, which authorized the federal government to take Native American-held land east of Mississippi and forcibly move Native Americans from their homes in Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Florida and Tennessee to « Indian territory. » “To relocate. in what is now Oklahoma.
The Trail of Tears was part of a series of forced relocations of approximately 60,000 Native Americans between 1830 and 1850. During that time, nearly 4,000 died from disease, exposure, and malnutrition. To learn and remember their history, you can hike portions of the Trail of Tears in Springfield, Missouri.
It wasn’t until 1924 that Native Americans were granted citizenship after Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act. While Native Americans also got the right to vote in 1924, it took another 40 years for all 50 states to give them the right to vote.
In 2020, 9.1 million people in the United States identified themselves as Native Americans and Alaska, an 86.5% increase from the 2010 census. They now make up 2.9% of the population. By 2060, the Native Americans and Alaskans are projected to be 10.1 million, or 2.5% of the population. Alaska has the largest Native American population in the United States, followed closely by Oklahoma.
There are approximately 326 Indian land areas in the US managed as federal Indian reservations, covering more than 56 million acres. There are currently 574 nationally recognized Indian tribes and villages in Alaska and Alaska.
The three largest Native American tribal groups are Cherokee, Navajo, and Latin American Indian tribes. The three largest Native American groups in Alaska are Yup’ik, Inupiat, and Tlingit-Haida.
In 2020, the Washington Redskins changed their name to The Washington Football Team, dropping « Redskins, » which is a derogatory term often used for those of Native American ancestry. The Cleveland Indians followed suit, and are now known as the Cleveland Guardians.
During World War II, the United States government enlisted the help of Native Americans, code talkers, who used the Navajo language to strictly to transmit classified information to the allied forces. Much of this information was kept secret until 2002 when Congress passed the Code Talkers Recognition Act. Overall, some tribes were up to 70% involved in the war effort.
Things that we take for granted, like rubber, corn, kayaks, modern agriculture, and even mouthwash, all have their roots in Native American design.
National Park Services runs the Tribal Preservation Program to support the Helping tribes preserve their historic land and important cultural heritage.
Historians believe that the United States Constitution was modeled after the « Great Law of Peace, » the Iroquois Confederation Constitution. It is believed that Benjamin Franklin studied it in detail.
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