In November, U.S. Honors Contributions of American Indians, Alaska Natives

Washington —
Each November, National American Indian Heritage Month pays tribute to the First Americans:  American Indians and Alaska Natives. The month celebrates their enduring contributions to the history and culture of the United States.

In the United States today
There are nearly 5,000,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives;
They make up 1.6% of the population;
By 2050, the population is expected to jump to 8,600,000 or 2% of the population;
 227,000 square kilometers of land held are held in trust by the U.S. for reservations;
Most American Indians live in metropolitan areas;.
California, Oklahoma and Arizona have the largest numbers of American Indians;
There are 565 federally recognized Indian tribes;
The largest are the Cherokee and Navajo nations;
Navajo is the most widely spoken Native language;
25% of Navajo speak their language at home -- the most native speakers;
Only 50% of the 300 or so native languages still have a living speakers;
Non-Indians have little knowledge of the active, vibrant culture of American Indians today;
There is a need for more education on American Indian history and culture.


National American Indian Heritage Month
In the early 1900s, Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the “First Americans;
In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association called on the country to observe such a day;
In 1915, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. 24 state government the petition, which James presented to the White House; 
In 1915, President Coolidge declared the second Saturday of each May as an American Indian Day;
In 1915, President Coolidge made the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens;
in 1916, New York declared the second Saturday in May as American Indian Day;
In 1919, Illinois enacted Native American Day.
Several states celebrate the fourth Friday in September as Native American Day;
Several states designated Columbus Day as Native American Day;
In 1990, President George H.W. Bush approved a proclamation making November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month;”
Since 1994, similar proclamations are issued each year.

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