November 23, 2012

Maryland's American Indian Heritage Day

Maryland celebrates American Indians after Thanksgiving, with a day off

By Rachel BayeWhile most people around the country are recovering from turkey-induced comas or rushing to Black Friday sales, Maryland state employees will be celebrating American Indian Heritage Day with a day off.

Of the 23 states that give their employees the day after Thanksgiving off, Maryland is the only one where the day honors the United States' indigenous population.

There are 20,420 American Indians in Maryland, making up about 0.4 percent of the population, according to data from the 2010 census. Eight tribes are indigenous to Maryland, including the Accohannock, Pocomoke, Nause-Waiwash, Assateague, Shawnee, Piscataway Indian Nation, Piscataway Conoy Confederacy and Subtribes and Cedarville Band of Piscataway, according to Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown's office.

The day after Thanksgiving has been a holiday for state employees in Maryland since the start of fiscal 1999. That is when the state legislature eliminated Defenders Day--which celebrates the defense of Baltimore during the War of 1812--Good Friday, Lincoln's Birthday and Maryland Day--which commemorates the arrival of settlers in St. Mary's County on March 25, 1634--as holidays for employees and added the day after Thanksgiving, or the fourth Friday in November.

The day was designated American Indian Heritage Day by a state law passed in 2008.
Comment:  The story implies that Maryland is the only state that honors Indians with a day. Not so, as this posting explains:

History of Native American Heritage DayToday, several states celebrate Native American Day on the fourth Friday in September, including California. In fact, in 1998 the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians partnered with the California Assembly to pass AB 1953, making California Native American Day an official state holiday.For more on the subject, see Native American Heritage Month 2012 and Heritage Month and Tribal Summit.

Below:  Howard County powwow.

No comments: