Native American Heritage Month
In 1914 Red Fox James of the Blackfeet tribe rode a pony 4,000 miles to present his request—endorsed by the governors of 24 states—that a day be set aside in honor of American Indians, or Native Americans, a name many prefer. The first general American Indian Day was observed on the second Saturday in May 1916, but throughout the 20th century, the observance and its date were left to the individual states, and they have varied widely. Since 1995 the month of November has been observed as American Indian Heritage Month.
Few would argue that the plight of American Indians today is not a grim one, with unemployment, illiteracy, and high school drop-out rates among the highest in the country. Although the largest Indian populations can be found in Oklahoma, Arizona, California, New Mexico, and North Carolina, many other states have come up with ways to draw attention to their unique contribution to American culture and to the need for improving their condition. Most celebrations focus on educational and promotional events, displays of Native American art and dance, and agricultural fairs.
Indian Health Service Heritage Committee
801 Thompson Ave., Ste. 400
Rockville, MD 20852
301-443-7261; fax: 301-480-3192
AnnivHol-2000, pp. 164, 181
BkFest-1937, p. 204