On Friday, October 30, President Donald J. Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation honoring the storied legacy of American Indians and Alaska Natives in our Nation and declaring November 2020 as National Native American Heritage Month.
Their cherished legacy, rich cultures, and heroic history of military service inspire us all. In November, as we recommit to supporting Native American Tribes and people, we resolve to work side-by-side with their leaders to secure stronger, safer communities and preserve their sacred heritage for future generations.
NIHB’s partner organization, United South and Eastern Tribes (USET, Inc.), is celebrating Native American Heritage Month. They issued the following message:
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the passage of Pub. L. 101-343 which authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation designating the month of November as National American Indian Heritage Month for the first time. The bill states “the President has authorized and requested to call upon Federal, State and local Governments, groups and organizations and the people of the United States to observe such month with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities”. This act was further supported by Presidential Proclamation 6230, issued by President George H.W. Bush. Annually, since the initial of 1990, every President has issued a proclamation in support of National American Indian Heritage Month, or Native American Heritage Month as it is called today. According to the Library of Congress website “Congress chose the month of the November to recognize the American Indians as this month concluded the traditional harvest season and was generally a time of thanksgiving and celebration for the American Indians.”
As an advocacy organization, as well as all of you who are engaged in the Indian country advocacy space, we are all too familiar with our collective Indian country invisibility and how it impacts our work. In July 2018, the Reclaiming Native Truth (RNT) Project, a public opinion research and strategy setting initiative that occurred from 2016-2018, released its data supported findings that speak to our challenges and opportunities in educating Americans and changing public perceptions about us.
RNT research findings indicate that the invisibility of and toxic misconceptions about Native peoples create very serious biases among diverse demographics and institutions, including the Courts, Congress, philanthropy and other sectors. Invisibility, perpetuated in pop culture, media and K-12 education, is one of the biggest drivers behind this endemic bias.
Recognizing the invisibility that exists, Native American Heritage Month provides the opportunity for greater attention and awareness to combat this invisibility. However, we must push for even greater progress as our story should not be confined to a single month of the year. Our story, including pre-United States, throughout, and modern day, is important and it is simply unacceptable that it is not required education for every American. As a consequence, our work as advocates is made that much more difficult, and more importantly, this lack of understanding by Americans has impeded us from achieving justice and righteousness for Indian country.
“The reality is that such a month exists because we are largely invisible within our own lands. Further, our existence as domestic sovereigns is unknown to most, the truth about our long, complex, and complicated nation to nation relationship is most often untold, and our existence is too often stereotyped, romanticized, and minimalized to a mere historical footnote. The time has come for greater truth about our shared story with America.”
2018 USET/USET SPF Native American Heritage Month Statement, Chief Kirk Francis, USET/USET SPF President
As we all understand, change begins with telling our own story and defining our own narrative. Through elevating our own voice, more often and more consistently, we hold the power to change the narrative about ourselves and to move America closer to greater acknowledgement, respect, and honoring of us as indigenous peoples. For our part, throughout Native American Heritage Month, we will be sharing brief videos from Tribal leaders and others from the USET/USET SPF family speaking to what Native American Heritage Month means to each.
HOEVEN: SENATE PASSES RESOLUTION DESIGNATING NOVEMBER AS NATIONAL NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH
WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, today released the following statement after the Senate approved a resolution he introduced with Vice Chairman Tom Udall to recognize November as National Native American Heritage Month.
“Our bipartisan resolution recognizes November as National Native American Heritage Month,” said Hoeven. “We appreciate our Senate colleagues for expeditiously passing this resolution that honors Native Americans, their culture, heritage, traditions, and achievements that have contributed greatly to our country.”
In addition to Hoeven and Udall, the following senators joined as co-sponsors of the resolution: Jerry Moran (R-KS), John Barrasso (R-WY), James Lankford (R-OK), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), James Inhofe (R-OK), Jon Tester (D-MT), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tina Smith (D-MN), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Angus King, Jr. (I-ME), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and John Thune (R-SD).
To read the full resolution, click here.
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