President George H.W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month”. Similar proclamations, under various names, have been issued each year since 1994. Long before that 1990 proclamation, Indigenous people of various backgrounds had struggled to get the history and culture of their people recognized and celebrated on a national sale.
Dr. Arthur C. Park, of Seneca descent, was the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, N.Y. He was an archaeologist, anthropologist, folklorist, and journalist among other designations who devoted a significant part of his life advocating for Native rights. He lived out these values by convincing the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the “First Americans”. They adopted this day for three years.
On September 28, 1915, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, of Arapahoe descent and Congress of the American Indian Association president, called upon the country to observe the second Saturday of each May as American Indian Day. This proclamation also contained the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens.
Red Fox James, of Blackfoot descent, rode over 4,000 miles on horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Native Americans. On December 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments to the White House. Unfortunately, there is no record of such a national day being proclaimed.
Over the years, several states have independently declared days in May or September to observe such a day. More recently, several states have designated Columbus Day as Native American Recognition Day, but it continues to be a day observed without any recognition as a national legal holiday.
Despite attempts to minimize and erase Indigenous voices, we must continue to raise awareness of the culture, history, and contributions of Indigenous people. Below are highlighted events happening on UMBC’s campus that you can attend in the spirit of education and celebration of this month.
Friday, November 8 | 12:00pm - 1:00pmWednesday, November 13 | 3:00pm - 4:30pmBagels & Banter Pop-Up #2: Indigenous Erasure and "National American History and Founders Month"Wednesday, November 13 | 5:30pm - 7:30pmMonday, November 18 | 12:00pm - 1:00pmThursday, December 5 | 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Check out the attached document for a list of events happening in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. We invite you to share this with your friends, co-workers, professors, and networks across campus. For more information, feel free to visit the Multicultural Resource Calendar located on Campus Life's Mosaic website!