The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee is celebrating National American Indian Heritage Month, recognizing the first inhabitants of the lands that now constitute the United States and their historical, cultural and intellectual contributions to U.S. history.
National American Indian Heritage Month became official in 1986, with November 23-30 designated as American Indian Week.
The website nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov describes the history of this recognition:
One of the very proponents of an American Indian Day was Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, who was the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, New York. He persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the “First Americans” and for three years they adopted such a day. In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association meeting in Lawrence, Kansas, formally approved a plan concerning American Indian Day.
It directed its president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe, to call upon the country to observe such a day. Coolidge issued a proclamation on Sept. 28, 1915, which declared the second Saturday of each May as an American Indian Day and contained the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens.
The year before this proclamation was issued, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. On December 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House. There is no record, however, of such a national day being proclaimed.
In June 2019, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden appointed Joy Harjo the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. Harjo is the first Native American poet to serve in the position – she is an enrolled member of the Muscogee Creek Nation.
Here at USFSM, we celebrated National American Indian Heritage Month with events in the courtyard including a performance by The Luis Salinas Nahui Ollin Aztec Dancers. Visit the USFSM Facebook page to view a gallery of photos from the event.