In the United States, the celebration of the history, culture, and traditions of American Indians gained official national recognition when President Ronald Reagan declared November 23-30 as Native American Heritage Week in 1986, and President George H.W. Bush dedicated the entire month of November as National American Indian Heritage Month in 1990. Since 2008, the State of Maryland also celebrates the American Indian Heritage Day on the fourth Friday of November, the day following Thanksgiving, and honors the ongoing relationship that it has with the American Indian community.
Beginning in 2020, our library system also wishes to commemorate the first Native American Day in Prince George’s County. In 2019, the County’s Legislative Branch stated the following: “The native and indigenous peoples of Prince George's County and the United States have significantly contributed to the rich fabric of history and culture we celebrate in our communities and should be rightly recognized. Whether it is the Piscataway-Conoy tribe in the County, or the many Native American tribes indigenous to every region of our nation, recognizing their place as the 'First Americans' is long overdue.” Renaming Columbus Day to Native American Day was celebrated in Prince George’s County for the first time on October 12, 2020.
Therefore, as residents of Prince George’s County, we would like to acknowledge that we gather on the traditional lands of the Mattapanient, the Patuxent, the Piscataway, the Moyaone, the Pamunkey, and the past and present, and honor with gratitude the land itself and the people who have stewarded it throughout the generations. This calls us to commit to continuing to learn how to be better stewards of the land we inhabit as well.
Sources of the Introduction:
People crossed and inhabited the Bering Land Bridge, which connected Asia and North America before sea levels rose to make the crossing by boat necessary
The Thule culture thrives in the arctic using whale skin boats and dog sleds for transportation.
Mississippian Mound Building culture begins, lasting into the 1500s.
Vikings arrived and explore parts of North America encountering Native peoples they refer to as “Skraelings”.
Iroquois League (Haudenosaunee) of the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca is formed, making a powerful alliance.
Christopher Columbus arrives in the Americas, taking Native prisoners and establishing a precedent for European colonization practices.
Hernando de Soto arrives in the present-day Southeast United States, bringing violence and disease to the area.
The Creek Confederacy forms, consisting of the Creek, Hitchiti and Alabama tribes.
tribes across the Great Plains acquire horses, helping shape their culture.
Pocahontas, the daughter of a Powhatan chief is kidnapped by the English in a prisoner exchange.
The French and Indian Wars begins, in which British American colonists fought against colonists of New France, with both sides supported by their parent countries and Native tribes.
Sequoyah’s finishes his syllabary, a writing system for his native Cherokee language.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs is formed.
Congress passes and President Andrew Jackson signs The Indian Removal Act is passed, starting the long term displacement of Native peoples in the Northeast to Oklahoma territory.
The brutal forced migrations of Native tribes take place, in which many Natives and slaves perish on their way to Indian Territory. This process comes to be known as the Trail of Tears.
The Battle of Little Bighorn, in which Lakota leaders Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse lead a victorious Native force to resist US encroachment into the Black Hills.
The Homestead Act opens up the west to white settlers, allowing homesteaders to claim tribal land.
The Sand Creek Massacre takes place, in which the US Army surprises and kills 150 Cheyenne and Arapaho, mostly women and children.
The United States buys Alaska from Russia, and eventually instate residential schools in the territory.
The Dawes General Allotment Act breaks up tribal reservation land into family-owned allotment. This led to many impoverished Natives selling of their land and eventually led to the loss of 90 million acres of land.
The spiritual movement called the Ghost Dance begins, eventually garnering negative attention from the U.S. government.
U.S. troops attack a camp at Wounded Knee Massacre in an attempt to stop the Ghost Dance resulting in the deaths of more than 250 members of the Lakota tribe.
Jim Thorpe (Sac and Fox) becomes the first Native American to medal in the Olympics.
New York celebrates American Indian Day, the first state to do so.
Choctaw soldiers use their language as a secret code during WWI for the United States Army, becoming known as the Code Talkers.
The Indian Citizenship Act grants US citizenships to all Native Americans born in the United States, though voting rights are not given.
Charles Curtis, a Native of mixed descent becomes Vice President, after serving in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Indian Reorganization Act reduces federal interference in Indian Affairs and restores key powers to tribal governments.
The National Congress of Native Americans is founded.
A series of US government policies referred to as the Termination Policy removes recognition and support from tribes and instead encourages complete assimilation of individuals with Native American heritage.
American Indian Movement begins at an intertribal meeting in Minnesota.
Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act come into effect, giving money and land rights to local Native groups.
Indian Self-Determination Act reversed strategies of termination and gave tribes more opportunities for financial support over time with less oversight.
Members of the American Indian Movement lead the Longest Walk, a spiritual journey and protest march for tribal sovereignty.
Wilma Mankiller is elected the first female president of the Cherokee Nation.
“Two Spirit” is adopted as an appropriate label to describe difference in sexual and gender identities in Native Communities.
U.S. Mint issues a dollar coin with the imagine of Sacagawea.
John Bennett Herrington (Chickasaw) becomes the first in space enrolled member of a Native American tribe to travel in space.
the Coquille Indian Tribe becomes the first Indian tribe to publicly enact marriage equality policies.
President Obama signs Native American Apology Resolution.
The Idle No More Movement led by Canadian Indigenous women influences Indigenous environmental protection protests across North America.
#NoDAPL protest begins at Standing Rock Reservation to protest the new pipeline proposal.
The Washington football team begins official talks to change their name and remove slur and associated imagery from their uniforms.
First Native American Day is celebrated in lieu of Columbus Day on Oct 12 in Prince George’s County.
The Cleveland Indians announce that they will change their name to Guardians to discontinue use of outmoded language, a move supported by Native groups.
Wells, A. (2018). Native American Heritage Timeline 20th – 21st Century. Retrieved October 02, 2020, from https://www.edi.nih.gov/blog/communities/native-american-heritage-timeline-20th-%E2%80%93-21st-century
O'Brien, C. (Ed.). (2019). Encyclopedia of American Indian History & Culture: Stories, Time Lines, Maps, and More. Washington, DC: National Geographic.
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