Observing National Native American Heritage Month
Native American Heritage Month
The designation of a month dedicated to recognizing Native Americans and their diverse cultures, histories, and traditions was a long process beginning in the early 1900s. In 1915 the annual Congress of the American Indian Association met to formally approve a plan for a day celebrating Native Americans. When that plan was approved Rev. Sherman Coolidge, a member of the Arapaho tribe, issued a proclamation declaring the second Saturday of each May as Native American day and contained the first official appeal for the recognition of Native Americans as citizens. The following year in 1916 the governor of New York declared the first day honoring Native Americans in May of that year after the proclamation from Coolidge and activism done by a member of the Blackfeet nation, Red Fox James.
Movement toward a Native American Heritage Month would make little progress for the next 50 years until 1976 when President Gerald Ford proclaimed October 10th-16th as Native American Awareness Week. Congress continued to declare one week during the autumn months as Native American Heritage Week, up until 1990 when a resolution was passed by Congress and signed into law by President George H. W. Bush declaring November as Native American Heritage Month.
As of 2022, there are 574 federally recognized tribes and a multitude of other tribes that are still campaigning for federal recognition. At Florida State University it’s important to recognize the efforts and achievements of the Seminole Tribe of Florida since FSU uses the Seminole name, logo, and images. We here at the FSU Diversity and Inclusion office hope that you all will join us in celebrating Native American Heritage Month.