Celebrating Native American Heritage Day

Celebrating Native American Heritage Day

Zoie Prandy, Staff Writer

Today is Black Friday, a nation-wide holiday of grand shopping extravaganza and beneficial discounts that mark the beginning of the Christmas season. Nevertheless, today also represents a very significant celebration in our society that we fail to recognize, Native American Heritage Day.

Prior to Native American Heritage Day, Native American Heritage Month was established by President George H. W. Bush on August 3, 1990, reserving the month of November to acknowledge and celebrate the original Native American inhabitants of this country, and their lineage. In the near future, Barack Obama signed “The Native American Heritage Day Resolution 2009,” into act, which stated that the Friday after Thanksgiving would be reserved as “Native American Heritage Day,” as a way to pay homage to the Native Americans’ contributions and successes in the United States.

Honor is received by indigenous people on this day, in which their rich culture, traditions, heritage, and accomplishments are celebrated and uplifted.

Native Americans have a long history in this country of being abused, taken advantage of, and continuously banished from their own land. Over 56 million indigenous people were slaughtered from various different tribes by European settlers, and the true origin of our “Thanksgiving” was a gathering to celebrate the slaughtering of hundreds of Pequot men, women, and children by colonial soldiers. This devastating truth further expresses the necessity for us as a community to continuously support and talk about Native American Heritage Day, because despite all these hardships, native Americans persevered in a way for their culture and heritage to be influential and impactful to our society.

There are so many commodities that we can commemorate the native American community for in our modern-day society, such as the development of protective goggles, baby bottles, genetically modified food crops, and pain-relieving medications.

Prominent Native American figures include Tom Love, who is a member of the Chickasaw Nation, and has co-founded a large abundance of convenience stores that is currently making him $20 billion in a year in revenue. N. Scott Momaday was a powerful voice for the indigenous community and was named the trailblazer for the Native American Renaissance with his Pulitzer Prize winning novel House Made of Dawn. In the novel, he voices his concerns on behalf of the Native community in which he even received the opportunity to speak at the United Nations, and founded the Buffalo Trust. Sequoyah, a member of the Cherokee tribe, created the Cherokee alphabet and wrote down the entire language all by himself. Sacagawea, from the Shoshone tribe, joined Lewis and Clark on their expedition and was a key figure in their successful discoveries and findings. Squanto was the Chief who encountered the colonists when they first arrived in the US, and taught them everything they needed to know about survival through catching fish, growing crops, and preparation for the winter, which we still carry in our society today, despite the Europeans riveting behavior. Famous actor Jason Mamoa from Aquaman and the Game of Thrones is of Native Hawaiin and Pawnee descent, in which he has a strong desire to tell more Indigenous stories on screen and won the Cinemanon Awards for Male Rising Star through his work on Conan, the Barbarian, and the Game of Thrones in 2011.

To further celebrate Native American Heritage Day and the Native community, we can learn about the indigenous lands we are currently residing on and do our part in honoring and protecting them, further educating ourselves and others about the true history of Native Americans in this country and the inequities they still face, while continuously keeping the contributions, successes, and culture of indigenous people alive.