Monday, November 12, 2012

Native American Heritage Month by Paty Jager

November is American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. It is a time to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories. And to acknowledge the important contributions of Native People. It was formed to educate the general public about tribes, to raise a general awareness about the unique challenges Native people have face both historically and int eh present, and show how tribal citizens work to conquer these challenges.

This month with the elections many Native Americans voted. We've discussed the fact women were a long time in getting the right to vote, but the people who lived in this country before it was a country didn't receive that right completely until 1965. 

The Indian Citizenship Act in 1924 gave citizenship rights to American Indians and Alaska Natives who had not already become U.S. Citizens by military service or denouncing tribal status and affiliations  At that time even though they became citizens not all states allowed American Indians to vote. 

The Voting Rights Act in 1965 finally gave American Indians and Alaska Natives the right to vote in every state. But there is still only a small group of Native Americans who vote. The National Congress of American Indians(NCAI) has started campaigns and pushed the need for Native Americans to take an interest in where this country is going and vote.


  1. Paty, I'm shocked to learn that the very people who have been here the longest could not vote in our elections until 1965. That is another scandalous part of our history. You really are knowledgable on American Indians. I have mostly read about Cherokee and Plains tribes and I sometimes write heroes who are part Cherokee, since that is what our family's oral tradition says my grandmother was. You might think that since it was my grandmother, that I would use heroines who were half Cherokee, but that's too logical for me. ☺ Thanks for sharing.

  2. Caroline, I was shocked when I discovered this as well. I'm not that knowledgeable just curious. ;0)

  3. I also had no idea the American Indians fall short on voting. What a shame because they'd probably be good becoming more part of the decision making. It just isn't ever mentioned, is it?

  4. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Yes, we were the conquering people, and they were vanquished. That is the rule of nations and wars. One doesn't. If a nation isn't strong enough to withstand the onslaught of invaders, then it's inevitable they will fall.
    I'm not saying this to be cruel or heartless...I'm not, at all.
    I suppose I'm thinking of our own nation right now....we're making some huge errors--just like the native tribes did--and someone will be able to overtake us.
    Many American Indians moved out of the poverty and standstill, into the mainstream and became doctors, lawyers, etc....while others...just like all groups...stayed behind, did not keep up, etc.
    I hope you see my point.
    One of our neighbors right down the street is 100% Pawnee. He was born on a reservation in Oklahoma, and his family still lives there. But he got out, went to school, became a universtiy professor, went to Brazil and lived and taught, came home, taught here at the university, and became an important member of our city.
    But twice a year, he takes his wife and goes home to Oklahoma...he wears the regalia they do, he tells stories, he worships and visits,..and then comes home to his beautiful home and family in Texas. He's a good friend, loyal to his tribe, yet he's the first to say if they do not get out and go in another direction, they stagnate.And that's from one of their own.

    True? Did we do wrong, too? Oh, yes, of course. But..well, I've said enough.
    Paty--your posts are always very good.

  5. Incredibly sad how long it took. This heritage month should be as mainstream and publicized as Black History Month IMO.

    I always learn so much from your posts, Paty. Thank you so much!


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