Native American Heritage Day 2022: History, Significance and Celebrations

Native American Heritage Day is annually celebrated on day after the Thanksgiving in the United States which means this year it falls on 25th September.  

This day is part of the celebrations of the Native American Heritage Month which is celebrated throughout November. American Indians are accorded special honor on this day, and their rich cultures, accomplishments, contributions, and heritage are celebrated.  

The story of the Americas begins with the Native Americans way before the colonization by the Europeans. And that’s why it is very necessary to celebrate the heritage of the oldest inhabitants of Americas which they have managed to preserve despite several years of persecution and oppression. 

Event Native American Heritage Day
Date November 25, 2022
Day Friday
Significance The day honors Native Americans and their diverse cultures, accomplishments, and contributions.
Observed by United States

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Native American Heritage Day History: 

We all are pretty much aware of the story of the Native Americans but let’s rewind a little back in time for context. So Native Americans lived in Americas for thousands of years isolated from rest of the world but then Columbus discovered the Americas around 1500s which led to the race for colonization of Americas by European powers. In North America, British came out be victorious and as a result of colonization it the conquerors carried out large executions and persecutions of the Native Americans. After independence too this policy continued by the US for many years which lead to large suffering and oppression of Native Americans. 

Dr. Arthur C. Parker of the Seneca nation first protested for having a National Native American Heritage Day between 1912 and 1915. At first, he was fighting for an “American Indian Day” to be recognized within the Boy Scouts of America. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed into law the legislation introduced by Congressman Joe Baca, to designate the day after Thanksgiving as American Indian Heritage Day in honor and celebration of the Native Americans culture and heritage. 

The law was established on November 28 as a day to pay respects to the Native Americans for their numerous contributions to the United States. The American Indian Heritage Day was supported by the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) and 184 federally recognized tribes. The Native American Heritage Day Bill encourages Americans of all backgrounds to observe the day after Thanksgiving as Native American Heritage Day, through appropriate ceremonies and activities. It also encourages public elementary and secondary schools to enhance student understanding of Native Americans.  

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The United States House of Representatives initially passed the Native American Heritage Day Act of 2009, with technical adjustments made by a collective consent in the United States Senate. The House of Representatives unanimously voted to pass the legislation again, including the Senate’s adjustments. The legislation was then signed into public law by President Barack Obama on October 30, 2009. 

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Native American Heritage Day Significance: 

It is a day to honor and recognize the indigenous people’s contributions to the United States. An official holiday enlightens people on how to do this right. Through this day we get to take part in the rich and diverse art, culture, and tradition of the Native people. This particular day allows us to bask in the beauty and uniqueness of their heritage, experiencing its multifaceted nature. So if you look deep into the culture of Native Americans you will find it very beautiful and unique in itself which many people doesn’t know.  

Native American Heritage Day also draws attention to the pain, trauma, and broken promises that had been whitewashed by the celebration of Thanksgiving Day which only tells a part of the story. As before the arrival of the Europeans, the indigenous folk were successful self-sufficient communities that sustained life for thousands of years. So it is very important that every Americans gets to know about the true history and celebrate this day as a remorse of the past for their atrocities on the Native Americans. 

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We learn and are inspired by how tribal citizens have synergized to conquer these challenges, and we hear these stories from the Natives themselves. It is the perfect chance to educate the public, to raise awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced, past and present. They must be celebrated as they had to face many challenges with persecution, oppression and continuous force assimilation by the European settlers but despite all of these they have managed to preserve their cultural heritage and this fact must be celebrated. 

There is also sone controvery with the day as in addition to calling Thanksgiving the “National Day of Mourning,” some Native Americans believe it is “poor taste” for Native American Heritage Day to be on Black Friday—”a day of excess and gluttony and greed and aggressive capitalism”—which itself “falls after a holiday that omits the murder and mutilation of Natives mourn the millions of indigenous people who died as a result of aggressive settler colonialism.” 

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Native American Heritage Day Celebrations: 

Use this opportunity to watch documentaries or read books that properly represent Native American history and culture and not whitewash anything. You can also take a tour of a Native American museum or heritage center near you to explore more about Native Americans through personal experience. 

It is a day to celebrate Native American culture and what represents culture better than food! So choose a Native American meal to make or buy on this day. Try Three Sisters Soup, Pemmican, or simple Buffalo Stew. Native American meals are famously delightful, so try out some of their decadent recipes to experience their delicious cuisine. 

It is often seen that many people in the country are still unaware about this very important holiday so use this opportunity to spread awareness about this day to others by using social media. It is very important that people gets to know about the correct history between Native Americans and European settlers.  

Most Searched FAQs on Native American Heritage Day: 

1. When is Native American Heritage Day celebrated? 

Native American Heritage Day is annually celebrated on day after the Thanksgiving in the US. 

2. What is the meaning of Native American Heritage Day? 

National Native American Heritage Day on the day after Thanksgiving honors American Indians across the nation. The day celebrates the vibrant cultures, traditions, and heritages while recognizing Native Americans’ many contributions. 

3. What is being Native American? 

The U.S. Census defines American Indian or Alaska Native as “A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment.” 

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