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Native American Heritage Month

Native American Heritage Month Celebrates and Recognizes

Native Americans are the original inhabitants, explorers and settlers of the United States.

“Native American Heritage Month” had its origin in 1986 when Congress passed Pub. L. 99-471 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week of November 23-30, 1986 as “American Indian Week.” As directed by Congress, President Ronald Reagan issued Presidential Proclamation 5577 in November 1986 proclaiming the first American Indian Week.  Both law and proclamation recognized the American Indians as the first inhabitants of the lands that now constitute the United States as well as making mention of their contributions to American society:

Many of the foods we eat and the medicines and remedies we use were introduced by Indians and more than one highway follows an Indian trail.  Indians make contributions in every area of endeavor and American life, and our literature and all our arts draw upon Indian themes and wisdom. Countless American Indians have served in our Armed Forces and have fought valiantly for our country.

In 1990 Congress passed Pub.L. 101-343 which authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation designating the month of November 1990 as “National American Indian Heritage Month. Congress chose the month of November to recognize the American Indians as this month concluded the traditional harvest season and was generally a time of thanksgiving and celebration for the American Indians.  President George W. Bush issued Presidential Proclamation 6230 which paid tribute to the rich history and culture of the American Indian tribes.  In 1991 Congress passed Pub.L 102-123 which authorized and requested the President proclaim the months of November 1991 and 1992 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Congress passed Pub. L. 103-462 authorized the President to proclaim November 1993 and 1994 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.”

Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994.

More information is available on the Library of Congress's website, at http://www.loc.gov/law/help/commemorative-observations/american-indian.php

Stats about tribal librarianship and service populations

  • 1990 - Year that President George H. W. Bush, at the request of Congress, issued a proclamation designating November as National American Indian Heritage Month. Similar proclamations and variations on the name---including Native American Heritage Month and National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month—have been issued each year since 1994.
  • 567 - Number of federally recognized tribes, according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  • 1958 - Year that the council of Colorado River Indian Tribes in Arizona created the first tribal library known to exist.
  • 5.4 million - Number of people who identify as American Indian and Alaska Native, according to the US Census Bureau’s 2014 American Community Survey.
  • 40 - Percent of tribal libraries (out of 99 respondents) that don’t have high-speed broadband internet access, according to a 2013-2014 Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums study.
  • 32 - Number of fully accredited tribal colleges and universities in the US, according to the Department of Education. All institutions have access to a library either on campus or within the community.
  • 1979 - Year that the American Indian Library Association was found.
  • 5 - Number of consecutive years (2010-2014) that Sherman Alexie’s young adult novel, The Absolutely True Dairy of a Part-Time Indian, made the American Library Association’s Top 10 Most Challenged Books list.