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National American Indian Heritage Month

National American Indian Heritage Month celebrates and recognizes the accomplishments of the people who were the original inhabitants, explorers, and settlers of the United States. In 1976, Cherokee American Indian J. C. Elliot-High Eagle, introduced Public Law 94-103, which was signed, making October 10-16 American Indian Awareness Week. (Courtesy graphic)

WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. --

National American Indian Heritage Month celebrates and recognizes the accomplishments of the people who were the original inhabitants, explorers, and settlers of the United States. In 1976, Cherokee American Indian J. C. Elliot-High Eagle, introduced Public Law 94-103, which was signed, making October 10-16 American Indian Awareness Week.  This was the first official week of national recognition for the American Indian since the founding of the Nation.  This set a precedent which was followed by later public laws that expanded the observance to what we now know as National American Indian Heritage Month.

In 1986, Congress passed Public Law 99-471 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week of November 23-30, 1986 as “American Indian Week.”  As directed by Congress, President Reagan issued Presidential Proclamation 5577 in November 1986, proclaiming the first American Indian Week.  Both law and proclamation recognized the American Indians as the first inhabitants of the lands that now constitute the United States as well as making mention of their contributions to American society:

Many of the foods we eat and the medicines and remedies we use were introduced by Indians. More than one highway follows an Indian trail.  Our literature and all of our arts draw upon Indian themes and wisdom. Countless American Indians have served in our Armed Forces and have fought valiantly for our country. Indians make contributions in every area of endeavor and American life. 

In 1990, Congress passed Public Law 101-343 which authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation designating the month of November 1990 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.”  Congress chose the month of November to recognize the American Indians as this month concluded the traditional harvest season, and it was also a time of thanksgiving and celebration for American Indians. Since 1990, every President have issued annual proclamations which designate November as, “National American Indian Heritage Month.”

On Sunday, 3 November 2019, Westover Air Reserve Base will honor this special month by holding an American Indian Heritage Month Program at 1130, in the Army Assembly Hall, Armed Forces Reserve Building.  The program will be hosted by members of  the Rising Six. 

Retrieved from DEOMI at https://www.deomi.org/human-relations/special-observances.cfm and from Library of Congress at https://www.loc.gov/law/help/commemorative-observations/american-indian.php