Welcome to Native American Heritage Month at the Department of the Interior! National Native American Heritage Month is celebrated each year in November. It is a time to celebrate the traditions, languages and stories of Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and affiliated Island communities and ensure their rich histories and contributions continue to thrive with each passing generation. This November and every month, we celebrate the culture and heritage of these remarkable Americans who deeply enrich the quality and character of our Nation. We celebrate Indian Country with its remarkable diversity of American Indian and Alaska Native cultures and peoples while remembering and honoring our veterans who have sacrificed so much to defend our Nation.
This year’s theme at Interior is Celebrating Tribal Sovereignty and Identity. Tribal sovereignty ensures that any decisions about Tribes with regard to their property and citizens are made with their participation and consent. The federal trust responsibility is a legal obligation under which the United States “has charged itself with moral obligations of the highest responsibility and trust” toward Indian tribes.
The Department of the Interior plays a key role in strengthening Tribal sovereignty, living up to trust and treaty responsibilities, and conducting robust Tribal consultation. Much of the Department’s work under Secretary Haaland’s leadership also centers on acknowledging the impact that relocation, forced assimilation, and lack of critical funding has on Indigenous communities across the country. We are committed to elevating those issues while empowering Tribal governments and Indigenous peoples.
This page will continue to update with more information, registration links, and other digital assets as they become ready.
November 15 – Rock Your Mocs day
Nov. 13 - 17
Join U.S. Indian Affairs by sharing your mocs photos with us through our social media platforms! Tag @USIndianAffairs on your posts and stories for a chance to be featured on our highlights. Follow us by clicking the linked below:Facebook Instagram LinkedIn Twitter
Here are some themes used by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs in the Department of the Interior for past celebrations.2022 - "Revitalizaing Indigenous Connections.” Flyer
2020 - "Resilient & Enduring: We are Native People.” Flyer
Live Stream: www.doi.gov/events
2019 - "Honor the Past, Embrace the Future” Flyer
2018 - “Empowering Indian Country” Flyer
2017 - "Standing Together" Flyer
2016 - "Serving Our Nations' Flyer
2015 - "Growing Native Leaders: Enhancing Our Seven Generations"
Opening Ceremony Program
Never Again Apology: 15-Year Anniversary Flyer
Never Again Apology: 15-Year Anniversary Program
Never Again Apology Speech Sept 8, 2000 2014 Event Photos
2014 - "Native Pride and Spirit: Yesterday, Today and Forever."Poster Event Photos
2013 - "Guiding Our Destiny with Heritage and Tradition"
2012 - "Serving Our People, Serving Our Nations; Honoring Those That Served Our Country"
2011 - "Celebrating Our Ancestors and Leaders of Tomorrow"
2010 – “Life is Sacred – Celebrate Healthy Native Communities”
2009 – “Pride in Our Heritage With Gratitude to Our Elders”
2008 – “Tribes Facing Challenges: In Unity, Transforming Hope into Strengths”
2007 – “Keeping in Step to the Heartbeat of the Drum as We Unite as One”
2006 – “Tribal Diversity: Weaving Together Our Traditions”
2005 – “Knowledge of the Past/Wisdom for the Future”
2004 – “Native Nations: Continuing in the New Millennium”
2003 – “A Celebration of the American Indian Spirit”
2002 - "Celebrating Our Past, Creating Our Future"
1989 - National American Indian Heritage Week Program
- Presidential Proclamation on National Native American Heritage Month, 2022
- November is National American Indian Heritage Month - The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans.
For almost one hundred years, Americans, both Indian and non-Indian, have urged that there be a permanently designated place on the calendar to honor the contributions, achievements, sacrifices, and cultural and historical legacy of the original inhabitants of what is now the United States and their descendants: the American Indian and Alaska Native people.
The quest for a national honoring of Native Americans began in the early 20th Century as a private effort. As far back as the late 1970s, Congress has enacted legislation, and subsequent presidents have issued annual proclamations designating a day, a week, or a month to celebrate and commemorate the Nation's American Indian and Alaska Native heritage. In 2009, Congress passed, and the President signed legislation establishing the Friday following Thanksgiving Day of each year as "Native American Heritage Day."
Honoring and Citizenship: Early Advocates
After 1900, one of the earliest proponents of a day honoring American Indians was Dr. Arthur Caswell Parker (b. 1881, d. 1955), a Cattaraugus Seneca and the director of the Rochester Museum in New York (now the Rochester Museum of Arts and Sciences). Dr. Parker (Gawasco Waneh) was a noted anthropologist, historian, and author whose great-uncle was Brigadier General Ely S. Parker, secretary to General Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War and the first American Indian to serve as Commissioner of Indian Affairs in the Department of the Interior. Dr. Parker also served as the first president of the Society for American Archaeology (1935-36).
Dr. Parker founded several American Indian rights organizations, including the Society of American Indians, in 1911, with the founding of the National Congress of American Indians in 1944, advocating for American Indians to be given U.S. citizenship. He successfully persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the "First Americans," which they did from 1912 to 1915.
In the spring of 1914, another Indian rights advocate, the Reverend Red Fox James (b. 1890-95, d. ?), also known as Red Fox Skiukusha, whose tribal identity is undetermined, began a 4,000-mile trek on horseback to Washington, D.C., to petition the President for an "Indian Day." The following year, on horseback, he traveled from state to state seeking gubernatorial support for U.S. citizenship to be extended to American Indians. On December 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 governors to the White House. In 1919, he petitioned the state of Washington to designate the fourth Saturday in September as an "Indian holiday."
Also in 1915, the Congress of the American Indian Association, meeting in Lawrence, Kansas, directed its President, the Reverend Sherman Coolidge (1862-1932), an Arapaho minister and one of the founders of the SAI, to call upon the Nation to observe a day for American Indians. On September 18, 1915, he issued a proclamation declaring the second Saturday of each May as "American Indian Day" and appealing for U.S. citizenship for American Indians.
In 1924, Congress enacted the Indian Citizenship Act, extending citizenship to all U.S.-born American Indians not already covered by treaties or other federal agreements that granted such status. The act was later amended to include Alaska Natives.
The first time an American Indian Day was formally designated in the U.S. may have been in 1916 when the governor of New York fixed the second Saturday in May for his state's observance. Several states celebrated the fourth Friday in September as American Indian Day. In 1919, the Illinois state legislature enacted a bill doing so. In Massachusetts, the governor issued a proclamation, following a 1935 law, naming the day that would become American Indian Day in any given year.
In 1968, California Governor Ronald Reagan signed a resolution designating the fourth Friday in September as American Indian Day. In 1998, the California State Assembly enacted legislation creating Native American Day as an official state holiday.
In 1989, the South Dakota state legislature passed a bill proclaiming 1990 as the "Year of Reconciliation" between American Indian and White citizens. According to that act, South Dakota Governor George S. Mickelson designated Columbus Day as the state's American Indian Day, making it a state-sanctioned holiday.
For more information about state designations for American Indian, Alaska Native, or Native American heritage observations or celebrations, contact the state(s) you are interested in directly.
1992 – The Year of the American Indian
The 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the western hemisphere in 1492 was the occasion for national and local celebrations. However, for Native people, it was an occasion they could neither fully embrace nor participate in.
Congress acknowledged their concerns regarding the Columbus Quincentennial by enacting Senate Joint Resolution 217 (Pub. L. 102-188), which designated 1992 as the "Year of the American Indian." It was signed by President George H.W. Bush on December 4, 1991. According to that act, President Bush issued on March 2, 1992, Proclamation 6407 announcing 1992 as the "Year of the American Indian."
The American Indian response to the anniversary was marked by public protests. Yet, it also was seen by many in that community as a unique, year-long opportunity to hold public education events, commemorations of ancestral sacrifices and contributions to America, and celebrations for the survival of Native peoples over five centuries.
In 1976, the United States bicentennial year, Congress passed a resolution authorizing President Ford to proclaim a week in October as "Native American Awareness Week." On October 8, 1976, he issued his presidential proclamation doing so. Since then, Congress and the President have observed a day, a week, or a month in honor of the American Indian and Alaska Native people. While the proclamations do not set a national theme for the observance, they allow each federal department and agency to develop ways of celebrating and honoring the Nation's Native American heritage.
1976: Senate Joint Resolution 209 authorizes President Gerald R. Ford to proclaim October 10-16, 1976 as “Native American Awareness Week.”
1983: President Ronald Reagan designates May 13, 1983 as “American Indian Day.”
1986: President Reagan signs on October 14 Senate Joint Resolution 390 (Pub. L. 99-471) which designates November 23-30, 1986 as “American Indian Week.” He issues Proclamation 5577 on November 24, 1986.
1987: Pursuant to Senate Joint Resolution 53 (Pub. L. 100-171), President Reagan proclaims November 22-28, 1987 as “American Indian Week.”
1988: President Reagan signs on September 23 a Senate Joint Resolution (Pub. L. 100-450) designating September 23-30, 1988 as “National American Indian Heritage Week.”
1989: Pursuant to Senate Joint Resolution 218 (Pub. L. 101-188), President George Herbert Walker Bush issues a proclamation on December 5 designating December 3-9, 1989 as “National American Indian Heritage Week.”
1990: President George H.W. Bush approves on August 3 House Joint Resolution 577 (Pub. L. 101-343) designating November 1990 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.” He issues Proclamation 6230 on November 14, 1990.
1991: Congress passes Senate Joint Resolution 172 (Pub. L. 102-123) which “authorize[s] and request[s] the President to proclaim the month of November 1991, and the month of each November thereafter, as ‘American Indian Heritage Month.’” President Bush issues Proclamation 6368 on October 30, 1991
1992 President George H.W. Bush issues on March 2 a proclamation designating 1992, which is also the Columbus Quincentennial, the “Year of the American Indian.” He does so pursuant to Senate Joint Resolution 217 (Pub. L. 102-188), which he signed on December 4, 1991.
1992: President George H.W. Bush issues on November 25 Proclamation 6511 designating November 1992 as "National American Indian Heritage Month."
1993: Congress passes Pub. L. 103-462 authorizing the President to proclaim November 1993 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.”
1994: President William Jefferson Clinton issues on November 5 Proclamation 6756 designating November 1994 as “National American Indian Heritage Month,” pursuant to Pub. L. 103-462.
1995: President Clinton issues on November 2 Proclamation 6847 designating November 1995 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.”
1996: President Clinton issues on October 29 Proclamation 6949 designating November 1996 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.”
1997: President Clinton issues on November 1 Proclamation 7047 designating November 1997 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.”
1998: President Clinton issues on October 29 Proclamation 7144 designating November 1998 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.”
1999: President Clinton issues on November 1 Proclamation 7247 designating November 1999 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.”
2000: President Clinton issues on November 8 Proclamation 7372 designating November 2000 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.”
2001: President George W. Bush issues on November 12 Proclamation 7500 designating November 2001 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.”
2002: President Bush issues on November 1 Proclamation 7620 designating November 2002 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.”
2003: President Bush issues on November 14 Proclamation 7735 designating November 2003 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.”
2004: President Bush issues on November 4 Proclamation 7840 designating November 2004 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.”
2005: President Bush issues on November 2 Proclamation 7956 designating November 2005 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.”
2006: President Bush issues on October 30 Proclamation 8076 designating November 2006 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.”
2007: President Bush issues on October 31 Proclamation 8196 designating November 2007 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.”
2008: President Bush issues on October 30 Proclamation 8313 designating November 2008 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Congress passes House Joint Resolution 62 designating the day after Thanksgiving Day, Friday, November 28, as “Native American Heritage Day”.
2009: Congress passes House Joint Resolution 40 (Pub. L. 111-33), the “Native American Heritage Day Act of 2009”, which designates the Friday immediately following Thanksgiving Day of each year as “Native American Heritage Day.” President Barack Obama signs the legislation on June 26. On October 30 he issues a proclamation designating November 2009 as “National Native American Heritage Month” and November 27, 2009 as Native American Heritage Day.”
2010: President Obama issues on October 29 Proclamation 8595 designating November 2010 as “National Native American Heritage Month.”
2011: President Obama issues on November 1 Proclamation 8749 designating November 2011 as "National Native American Heritage Month."
2012: President Obama issues on November 1 a proclamation designating November 2012 as "National Native American Heritage Month" and November 23, 2012, as "Native American Heritage Day."
2013: President Obama issues on October 31 a proclamation designating November 2013 as "National Native American Heritage Month."
2014: President Obama issues on October 31 a proclamation designating November 2014 as "National Native American Heritage Month."
2015: President Obama issues on October 30 a proclamation designating November 2015 as "National Native American Heritage Month."
2016: President Obama issues on October 31, 2016 a proclamation designating November 2016 as "National Native American Heritage Month."
2018: President Trump issues on October 31, 2018 a proclamation designating November 2018 as "National Native American Heritage Month."
2019: President Trump issues on October 31, 2019 a proclamation designating November 2019 as "National Native American Heritage Month."
2021: President Biden issues on October 29, 2021 a proclamation designating November 2021 as "National Native American Heritage Month."
2022: President Biden issues on October 31, 2022 a proclamation designating November 2022 as "National Native American Heritage Month."
We encourage people to participate in social media campaigns to add their voice to Native American Heritage Month. Below are efforts you may participate in:
Graphics and Media
Below are some graphics for you to use. They have this year's them "Celebrating Tribal Sovereignty and Identity." Click to download and post on your social media feeds using the hashtags below.
November 4 – National Bison Day
On May 9, 2016, the American bison was named The National Mammal of the United States. National Bison Day is an annual celebration of the significance of the American bison held on the first Saturday in November each year. Bison have been integral to tribal culture, providing them with food, clothing, fuel, tools, shelter, and spiritual value. Established in 1992, the Inter-Tribal Buffalo Council works with the National Park Service to transfer bison from national park lands to tribal lands. In March of 2023, Secretary Deb Haaland established the Interagency Bison Conservation Working Group to enhance the Department's work to restore the wild and healthy American bison population and the prairie grassland ecosystem using science and Indigenous Knowledge.
November 11 – Veterans Day
American Indians and Alaska Natives answer the call of duty and defend our Nation's precious liberties at one of the highest rates of any ethnic group in the United States, serving admirably in every branch of our military. Today, 31,000 courageous men and women from American Indian and Alaska Native communities serve on active duty in our Armed Forces.
November 15 - Rock Your Mocs 2023
Established in 2011, Rock Your Mocs, is a worldwide Indigenous Peoples, American Indian and Alaska Native grassroots movement held annually in the U.S. during Native American Heritage Month (November). This social media campaign is held to inspire cultural pride for American Indians and Alaska Natives and to showcase individual tribal identity that also honors our ancestors.
It’s easy to participate, simply wear moccasins! Or if you don’t own or can’t wear mocs (perhaps your tribe didn’t wear mocs), wear a Turquoise Ribbon or Apparel instead. You can also use the hashtag(s) #RockYourMocs or #RockYourMocs2023 on your personal social media channels.
November 19 - Red Shawl Day
The Violence Against Women Act of 2005 clarified that the unique legal relationship of the United States to Indian tribes creates a federal trust responsibility to assist tribal governments in safeguarding the lives of Native women. For the week of November 15-21st, wear red to draw attention to the horrible acts of violence committed against American Indian and Alaska Native people, particularly women and children. Red symbolizes the loss of sacred life blood through violence. Add to the bigger conversation by using #RedShawlWeek on your social media channels.
November 23 - Thanksgiving
November 24 - Native American Heritage Day