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Native American and Alaskan Native Heritage Month began as an effort to recognize significant contributions made by the first Americans, which led to the month of November being designated for that purpose. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian and director of the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Rochester, New York, was one of the first advocates of an American Indian Day. He 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 approved a plan to nationally recognize American Indian Day; its president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge issued a proclamation on September 28, 1915, declaring the second Saturday of each May as American Indian Day. The proclamation contained the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens. The year before Coolidge issued his proclamation, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode on horseback from state to state, seeking endorsements for a day honoring Indians. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November as "National American Indian Heritage Month." Learn More
Famous People in Native American and Alaskan Native History
Sharice Davids is a Native American attorney and politician and a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation. She is the first openly gay member of Congress to represent Kansas, as well as the first openly gay Native American to ever serve in the U.S. Congress. Full Bio
Robin Maxkii is a Native American technology activist, filmmaker, and writer. Maxkii is known primarily for her work on broadening the participation of Native Americans in education and technology. Full bio
Elizabeth Peratrovich was an Alaskan native who fought for equal rights in Alaska. She addressed the Alaskan Territorial Senate to chide members who were against an antidiscrimination bill, which passed in 1945. Full Bio
Irene Bedard is an actress of Inupiat, Yupic, Cree, and Métis heritage best known for the role of Pocahontas in the Disney film. She started Sleeping Lady Films and Waking Giants Productions to make authentic Native American films. Full bio
Louise Erdrich is an American author, writer of novels, poetry, and children's books featuring Native American characters and settings. In 2012, Erdrich received the National Book Award for her novel, The Round House.Full Bio
Buffy Sainte-Marie is a musician of Cree Indian heritage who has written about Native American affairs, written poetry and screenplays, and composed film scores, as well as writing, recording, and performing songs.Full Bio
Winona LaDuke, an Ojibwe Indian, is a longtime environmentalist, feminist, and indigenous rights activist. She also ran for Vice President as nominee under the Green Party ticket during the 1996 and 2000 elections. Full Bio
Russell Means was an Oglala Lakota Indian rights activist for many decades, and as the head of the American Indian Anti-Defamation League beginning in 1988, he fought for the unique identity and independence of Native Americans. Full Bio
Navarre Scott Momaday is an a novelist and academic of Kiowa Indian heritage whose novel, House Made of Dawn, is hailed as a breakthrough in Native American Literature; it also won the 1969 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.Full Bio
Fred Begay was a Navajo nuclear physicist who conducted research on the Sun, atomic energy, and the physics of plasma, a gas used in nuclear power plants. He also advised the Navajo Nation on science and technology issues. Full Bio
Native American and Alaskan Native History Books @ MiraCosta Library
Native American and Alaskan Native History Films @ MiraCosta Library
A compelling study of the Hopi that captures their deep spirituality and reveals their integration of art and daily life. Amidst the beautiful images of Hopi land and life, a variety of Hopi--a farmer, religiou
Up Heartbreak Hill chronicles the lives of three Native American teenagers in Navajo, New Mexico-Thomas, an elite runner; Tamara, an academic superstar; and Gabby, an aspiring photographer-as they navigate their senior year at a reservation high school.
On December 28th, 2016, former President Obama protected nearly 1.5 million acres of sprawling canyon lands and ancient cultural sites in southeast Utah by designating the area as Bears Ears National Monument.
When N. Scott Momaday won the 1969 Pulitzer Prize, it marked one of the first major acknowledgments of Native American literature and culture. Now, Momaday’s words come to life in this biography of a celebrated Native American storyteller.
Western spiritualists often seek enlightenment through indigenous religions once practiced in different regions around the world. Native American rituals are especially popular, and Europeans stage ceremonies based on American Indian beliefs for which they charge admission. America’s original people are not pleased with this development, for they regard this practice as the exploitation of their heritage.
Native American Languages and Cultural Identity
Indigenous Language Preservation
Indigenous Language Institute: Provides vital language related service to Native communities so that their individual identities, traditional wisdom, and values are passed on to future generations in their original languages.