Native American Month
Native American Month began as American Indian Day, and Doctor Arthur Parker, a Seneca Indian, initially proposed a special time to remember the contribution of the First Americans. This proposal passed the Congress of American Indians and Calvin Coolidge signed a Proclamation on September 28, 1915 that the second Saturday of May would be devoted to honoring Native Americans and their contribution to the nation. IN 1990, President George Bush declared that November would be Native American Month, giving American 29 more days in addition to the one day set aside to honor them.
Native American Month is commemorated through celebrations and special lessons in schools. It is probably no coincidence that Native American Month falls in the same month as Thanksgiving. Traditionally, schoolchildren spent the month discussing the history of the pilgrims who came to America to escape religious persecution. However, now that Native American month has been established, students explore the effect of the settlers on the Native Americans and how significant the contributions were. If it had not been for the Native Americans, the pilgrims would not have survived, and indeed many of them died because they were unfamiliar with the terrain of the New World. Native American month honors Native American wisdom and culture and gives students a chance to explore the Thanksgiving story from the point of view of the American Indians.
Native American Month is also commemorated with special exhibits in museums designed to celebrate and display American Indian art and history. Many Native Americans have public celebrations and meetings to raise awareness of Native American rights. Schools celebrate Native American month by concentrating on the history of various tribes in America. Young children may dress up in Indian costumes and eat traditional Native American food. Many children write and act out plays in honor of Native American month and read books about Native American history.
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