November is Native American Heritage Month, commemorating and celebrating the contributions and the rich culture of Native people while raising awareness about the unique challenges they have been historically facing while honoring the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to overcome these challenges. Its designation in November also aligns with the conclusion of the traditional harvest season, and encourages the public’s education about accomplishments of our country’s original inhabitants, explorers and settlers.
At the turn of the century, there was an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S. The governor of New York declared the first American Indian Day on the second Saturday in May 1916. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 National American Indian Heritage Month. Inherent in celebrating Native American Heritage Month, is acknowledging the historical legacies and acknowledging the land that the institutions, hometowns, counties, and states are included.
"It does not require many words to speak the truth" -
Chief Joseph, Nez Perce
The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, also known as the Snyder Act, granted full U.S. citizenship to Native Americans. While the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1868, had granted citizenship on all people born in the United States—including formerly enslaved people—the amendment did not apply to Indigenous Native people.
Enacted partially in recognition of the Native Americans who had served in World War I, President Calvin Coolidge on June 2, 1924 signed the act. Though the act granted Native Americans U.S. citizenship, it did not ensure them the right to vote. At the time, many states opposed allowing Native people to vote in their states. As a result, Native Americans had to secure the right to vote by winning it in the individual state legislatures. In 1962, New Mexico became the last state to guarantee voting rights for Native Americans. However, many Native Americans were still discouraged from voting by poll taxes, literacy tests, and physical intimidation.