National Native American Heritage Day

Lefty Graves
Pow Wow ceremony with people in attendance.Photo byAndrew James/UnsplashonUnsplash

The day after Thanksgiving is set aside to honor National Native American Heritage day. All through the month, Native American and Indigenous peoples celebrate their heritage. In addition, past and present indigenous peoples are rededicating themselves to honoring Tribal sovereignty through their determination to better themselves.

Sadly, the United States hasn’t always delivered on its promises to the Tribal Nations. For many centuries, there were broken treaties and policies of removing their children from their tribal lands and placing them in schools where the United States tried to take away their very personas. Despite this, the Tribal Populations stand firm today and are proud of their heritage. Many are working hard to continue traditions that their ancestors began.


In 1914, via horseback, Red Fox James, an Indian from the Blackfoot tribe, rode his horse from town to town in 24 different states to seek endorsement to support a national day to recognize and honor Native Americans.

Red Fox James then presented these endorsements to the White House in 1915. During that time, the United States government did not proclaim this as a national day. However, New York declared the second Saturday in May American Indian Day.

In 1986, President Ronald Regan declared the first American Indian week, and every year after that. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush continued when he approved a joint resolution declaring November as National American Indian Heritage Month.

This was the turning point. This tradition has continued annually since that time. In 2008, the action for Native American Heritage Day Act was enacted by Congress, and President George W. Bush signed it on October 8, 2008.

How to observe Native American Heritage Day

There are many great ways to celebrate this important day. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Read a book about Native Americans.
  • Read a book written by a Native American.
  • Visit a Native American museum.
  • Visit a Native American historical site.
  • Try your hand a preparing a traditional Native American recipe.
  • Watch a movie or a documentary by or about a Native American.
  • Play a game of Lacrosse.
  • Attend one of the many performances or events honoring Native Americans today.

Today, there are 574 federally recognized tribes in the United States. There are even more tribes that are identified at the state level. Additionally, there are hundreds of tribes that are continuing to go through the process of becoming federally recognized.

Be sure to share how you observe Native American Heritage Day on your favorite social media site with #NativeAmericanHeritageDay. Be sure to share with us in the comments as well. We’d love to hear how you observed Native American Heritage Day.


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Lefty has been writing online since 2000 on various topics, including youth mentoring, addiction recovery, parenting, gardening, advocating for seniors, sustainability, farming, and an eclectic mix of other topics. She resides on a farm with her family in Northeastern Washington state.

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