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National Native American Heritage Month

or Native American Heritage Month, or American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month, or National American Indian Heritage Month [ nash-uh-nl ney-tiv uh-mer-i-kuhn her-i-tij muhnth ]

What is National Native American Heritage Month?

National Native American Heritage Month is a month-long observance in the US in celebration of the cultures, contributions, and lives of people with Native American heritage.

It often also involves raising awareness of Native American history.

The month is sometimes referred to as American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month, among other names. It’s important to note that not all of the people whom the month honors identify as Native American, with some using other general terms, such as American Indian or Indigenous. Many individuals prefer to identify using the name of their specific tribe or nation.

In this way, the month is often used as an opportunity to educate or learn about the great diversity of Native American heritage.

Observance of the month often involves celebratory cultural and educational events. It is also often used as a time to acknowledge, educate, or learn about the history of colonialism and its devastating impact on Native Americans, notably the acts of genocide and systemic oppression by white European colonizers and subsequently the US government—and the persisting mistreatment and inequalities rooted in this history. A related focus is Native Americans’ struggle for equal rights.

⚡️When is National Native American Heritage Month?

National Native American Heritage Month is observed each year in November.

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Related words

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, National Hispanic Heritage Month, Black History Month, Filipino American History Month, Jewish American Heritage Month

Where does National Native American Heritage Month come from?

In 1986, Congress passed a resolution proclaiming the last week of November as Native American Heritage Week. In 1990, November was officially designated as National American Indian Heritage Month through a proclamation. Later proclamations have used the name National Native American Heritage Month.

Official government acknowledgment of the month was the result of the efforts of multiple Native American activists. In the early 1900s, Dr. Arthur C. Parker of the Seneca tribe promoted the idea of a day dedicated to “First Americans.” In 1915, Reverend Sherman Coolidge, an Arapaho man and president of the American Indian Association, issued a declaration establishing the second Saturday in May as American Indian Day. The declaration called on the US government to adopt American Indian Day and also contained a formal appeal for Native Americans to be considered US citizens. Native Americans were not granted citizenship until 1924.

Around the same time, a Blackfoot man named Red Fox James promoted a day to honor Native Americans by collecting endorsements from state governments. American Indian Day was adopted on different days by different states, including New York and Illinois.

Today, a day known as Native American Heritage Day is observed during Native American Heritage Month on the day following Thanksgiving. A separate but related holiday, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, is celebrated on the second Monday in October (in 2021, it took place on October 11).

Examples of National Native American Heritage Month

As Native American Heritage Month comes to an end, my hope/my plea is that we all remember that American Indians exist year-round. Acknowledgement of our histories, languages, cultures, and presence should not be relegated to one month a year. We, as a nation, must do better.
@sfaircloth12, November 27, 2018
November is National Native American Heritage month. This Thanksgiving, listen to Native voices, support Native businesses and artists, recognize whose lands you’re living on, celebrate Native peoples and their rich history and contributions to our society. Learn about allyship!
@hotcheetopants, November 26, 2020
November is Native American Heritage Month, and it’s important to spend time educating ourselves on Native American history.
Yassie Buchanan, The Daily Iowan, October 25, 2021
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Who uses National Native American Heritage Month?

Did you know … ?

  • According to Census statistics, more than 7 million people in the United States identify as Native American or Indigenous.
  • Native Americans were not considered US citizens until 1924, and they did not have full voting rights until 1962.

What are other words used in discussion of National Native American Heritage Month?

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National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, World AIDS Day, Rosa Parks Day, International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Omicron variant

Note

This is not meant to be a formal definition of National Native American Heritage Month like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of National Native American Heritage Month that will help our users expand their word mastery.