Native American Heritage Day 2021


David McNew

GRAND CANYON, AZ – MARCH 20: Hualapai tribal dancers gather for opening ceremonies for the first official walk of the Skywalk, billed as the first-ever cantilever-shaped glass walkway extending 70 feet from the western Grand Canyon’s rim more than 4,000 feet above the Colorado River, on March 20, 2007 on the Hualapai Reservation at Grand Canyon, Arizona. The building of the Skywalk on Hualapai Indian tribal land 90 miles downstream from Grand Canyon National Park has stirred controversy with some tribal elders and environmentalists who have condemned it as a desecration of a sacred American landscape. The $40 million glass and steel platform will open to the public on March 28 when visitors will be allowed to take the lofty walk at a cost of $25 per person plus the cost of a Grand Canyon West entrance package, a total of about $75. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Anabelle Taylor, Journalist

Native American Heritage day is Friday the 26th of November – the day right after Thanksgiving.

Between 1912 and 1914 Dr. Arthur C. Parker, from the Seneca nation, protested that a National holiday should be dedicated to Native American Heritage. Parker’s original plan was to make this a celebration just within the Boy Scouts in order to teach younger generations Native values and traditions. In 1990, President Bush turned it into a national holiday.

 November 26 is dedicated to learning more about Native people and their culture instead of relying on stereotypes or generalizations. Especially in light of Thanksgiving, there are many people who lump together all Native Americans and, in the process, disregard the distinctive qualities of different tribes. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), there are 574 federally recognized tribes that speak 174 different languages and have a variety of customs. To celebrate this holiday, one can eat indigenous foods, research histories, and be socially active.

In observing this holiday, Trident writer Anabelle Taylor researched Native American History through the Library of Congress, and this is what she learned:

The sequoia tree is named after Cherokee leader Sequoyah who developed a Cherokee alphabet which later led to a Cherokee newspaper (the Cherokee Phoenix).

Maria Tallchief, a member of the Osage Nation, was a prominent ballerina who was part of the New York City Ballet. She also served as a muse for George Balanchine (an influential 20th-century choreographer). Tallchief was world renown and performed in theaters in Paris, Russia, and throughout the United States. Even as she became famous, Tallchief remained active in the Osage community and was given the name “Princess Wa-Txthe-thonba” meaning “the Woman of Two Standards.”

Joy Harjo, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, is the first Native American Poet Laureate (the highest title any American Poet can receive). Harjo has worked to distinguish other Native American writers in her “Living Nations Living Words” project.

A man named Ishi who lived 1860–1916 was known as the “last wild Indian” in America. After his tribe, the Yahi, became extinct in the late 1800s, Ishi lived most of his life outside modern culture. In 1911, Ishi was starving and had nowhere to go, so he went to Oroville to be studied by anthropologists.

Native Americans who spoke languages from the Algonquian group were the first to meet English explorers, so many words from these languages were assimilated into English. These words include caribou, chipmunk, moccasin, moose, muskrat, opossum, pecan, powwow, raccoon, skunk, toboggan, totem, wigwam, and woodchuck.

Trident was curious to know how other Sea Kings were observing this holiday. Ella Anderson, a sophomore, replied, “I heard about this from TikTok.” Anderson was most likely referring to #NativeFamily – a famous community that has been spreading awareness of this holiday on social media. She continued, “I don’t know what I’ll do, I might research about it.” Connor Sheridan, a junior admitted, “No I didn’t do anything special,” but after hearing that one was to celebrate was to eat indigenous foods he said, “Yeah, I like trying new foods.”

Learning more about Native American Heritage Day is a great opportunity to further enrich and educate people on campus.