Opinion: Native American Heritage Month history often ignored

Writer looks at the events leading up to creation of Native American Heritage Month:
The long-suffering culmination of cooperative efforts made to honor the memory of the American Indian at the highest level of American government is truly significant and reveals a major turning point in the destructive clash between cultures and races. Sadly, American historians have not given it much attention.

Starting in the early 1900s, American Indians advanced a number of genuine efforts to heal the wounds. In a dramatic feat in 1914, Red Fox James, a member of the Blackfeet Tribe of Montana, rode on horseback over 4,000 miles across the U.S. collecting endorsements from the governors of various states for the creation of an “American Indian Day.”

Red Fox James gathered endorsements from 24 state governments and rode his horse to Washington, D.C., and delivered the documents to the White House on December 14, 1915. Unfortunately, there is no record of Woodrow Wilson or any representative of the federal government responding to his earnest endeavor. However, other respected leaders of the American Indians made serious and sincere efforts to further the healing effort. Individual Americans and leaders within the Indian communities seriously believed in bridging the gap of distrust, resentment, and hatred to reconcile and restore relations with white people and the government, and to extend the proverbial olive branch to the enemy.

Get the Story:
Dennis Jamison: Reflecting on the purpose of American Indian Heritage Month (The Washington Times 11/6)

Join the Conversation