In countries all over the world, new people have travelled from their points of origin the inhabit land that previously belonged to others. While we call the Americas the “New World”, the culture and history of that country was anything but new when it was first discovered by Europeans. The relations between their new neighbors (who quickly made themselves unwelcome) were tenuous and then tumultuous, until the culture of the country’s first inhabitants were nearly forgotten. Native American Heritage Month honors those who remain and serves as a reminder that the culture is far from dead, it’s still alive and breathing in the descendants of the First Americans.
History of Native American Heritage Month
The history of Native American Heritage Month goes back a surprisingly long time, even without considering the hundreds of years that Europeans have imposed themselves on the New World. The first inklings that such a day may come to pass occurred back in 1915 when Red Fox James, a Native American of the Blackfoot nation, took it upon himself to ride a horse from state to state seeking approval from 24 separate state governments for a day to honor the “American Indian”. In December of that year he presented it to the White House, apparently to no positive effect.
It was George H. W. Bush who officially took the steps to push forward a joint resolution that made November of 1990 the first official Native American Heritage Month. Multiple proclamations have been made since each year following 1994. Since then cultural sites, museums, and native tribal councils have organized events showcasing their rich and diverse culture and history so that it might be spread to the young and continue to thrive.
How to celebrate Native American Heritage Month
Celebrating Native American Heritage Month involves taking the time to recognize the rich diversities of the cultures that existed in America before it became the world power it is today. There are hundreds of tribes across the nation, but most people are only capable of naming a few, and even fewer are represented in the media of the day. If you live in the Americas, Native American Heritage Month is a great opportunity to research your local history and discover which tribes called the land you now live on home.
Then go on to find out what local tribal communities they are near you, and what sort of activities they present as part of their history during Native American Heritage Month. Visit, learn, and take it all in to honor this still living culture.