I am thankful that the entire month of November is dedicated to celebrating the indigenous peoples of our nation.
During a time when we show our gratitude to friends and loved ones, it is important to recognize the contributions that Native Americans have made to our country.
In 1990, President George H.W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November as National American Indian Heritage Month.
The resolution signified great progress on the road to equality for Native Americans. Dedicating this month to educating others about our culture, as well as the history behind the proclamation, is crucial to understanding Native American heritage. The recognition of National American Indian Heritage Month proves that our calls for acknowledgment and appreciation have not gone unanswered.
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American Indian commemorations have recently gained national respect and attention. Some states have replaced Columbus Day with Native American Day, while others designate one day a year as American Indian Day. Many communities participate in Native American arts and cultural festivals, offering people a chance to try native foods and listen to traditional music. Art exhibitions featuring Native American artists can be found in many cities, and many museums showcase traditional clothing and historical artifacts.
By celebrating National American Indian Heritage Month we continue to find respectful means for honoring our past and claiming our future. We, as the indigenous peoples of this nation, are thankful for the opportunity to express and share our culture and hope people find a new appreciation for Native Americans’ contributions.
While there are still challenges to overcome, steps are being made in the right direction toward improving Native American equality. Many organizations, such as the Florida Governor’s Council on Indian Affairs, Inc. — a private, non-profit corporation which works to provide technical assistance for American Indians, Alaskan Natives and Native Hawaiians within Florida and Georgia to achieve economic self-sufficiency —promote a better life for Native Americans through providing education, employment and job training programs. I encourage Native Americans in need to use these types of programs.
Florida Governor’s Council
on Indian Affairs, Tallahassee