Friday after Thanksgiving will be designated as day of tribute
The Native American Heritage Day 2008 Bill, which is supported by the National Indian Gaming Association, National Congress of American Indians, (NCAI) and Indian tribes across the country, encourages the people of the United States, as well as the federal, state and local governments and interested groups and organizations to observe Native American Heritage Day with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities. The Resolution was introduced by Congressman Joe Baca (D-CA) and Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) who helped move the Resolution through the Senate.
NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. said, “This is a great moment for Indian country. Signing this bill into law officially recognizes, remembers and formally celebrates the history, achievements and certainly the major contributions to the American democracy by Native America.
“This law encourages the United States to honor Native America by celebrating Native American Heritage Day in all of your communities as a way to create stronger public awareness and understanding of Indian country, our culture, traditions, language and the strength, honor and patriotism, of our people.”
As with the actual and proposed apologies to Native people, this designation is largely symbolic. It won't change anything unless the words are matched with actions. For example, people won't recognize a holiday-like celebration until it's made an official holiday--with no mail delivery and a paid day off work.
I mean an official holiday beyond what the day after Thanksgiving already is. On that day, most kids are already out of school and many people are already off work. So this designation won't change much of anything. It won't cause much of anyone to think about Native culture and history.
If you truly want to honor Indians, get rid of the Eurocentric and outdated Columbus Day. Replace that with Native American Heritage Day. That'll tell everyone we're serious about honoring our indigenous forebearers.
Below: Two "honorees" and an Indian.