Each November, we celebrate Native American Heritage Month, also known as American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. This month is dedicated to recognizing the sacrifices and hardships faced by Native Americans, and celebrating the traditions, culture, and contributions of Native American and Alaska Native peoples.
Throughout the years, there have been multiple attempts to commemorate Native American achievement. One of the first attempts dates back to 1912, when Dr. Arthur Caswell Parker, a member of the Seneca Nation and founder of several Indian rights organizations, convinced the Boy Scouts of America to honor indigenous peoples with “First Americans Day”.
In 1987, President Ronald Reagan was called upon by Congress to designate November 22-28 as “American Indian Week”. The call for recognition continued, and in 1990, President George H. W. Bush approved a resolution to designate November as “American Indian Heritage Month”, now known as “Native American Heritage Month”. In Proclamation 6230, President Bush declared:
“Long before European explorers set foot on the North American continent, this great land has been cultivated and cherished by generations of American Indians…..Today Americans of all ages recognize the many outstanding achievements of this country’s original inhabitants and their descendants.”
“During the National American Indian Heritage Month, as we celebrate the fascinating history and time-honored traditions of Native Americans, we also look to the future….Today we reaffirm our support for increased Indian control over tribal government affairs, and we look forward to still greater economic independence and self-sufficiency for Native Americans.”
How can we celebrate Native American Heritage Month today? This month provides an excellent opportunity to educate ourselves and others about the struggles faced by the Native American peoples, and to raise awareness for the different tribes. Here at the Georgia MBDA Business Center, we celebrate this month by supporting Native American-owned businesses. There are more than 270,000 Native American-owned businesses in the United States, and our goal is to provide resources and technical assistance to these entrepreneurs. We also encourage others to support Native American-owned businesses. For a helpful directory of Native American-owned businesses, please visit the American Indian Business Alliance’s website.