Washington, DC – Today, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (SCIA), issued the following statement on November as National Native American Heritage Month.
“This month brings awareness to celebrate, and recognize the many contributions made by Native people in the United States—Alaska Natives, American Indians, and Native Hawaiians—along with other Indigenous peoples in our country from across the globe. Alaska is home to nearly 40 percent of all federally recognized Tribes, with 229 being located in my home state. November, Native American Heritage Month, is a time to honor the culture and heritage that millions of Native people share with us daily. From the most northern Native community in the Arctic Slope region to the most southwestern Native community in the Aleut region in Alaska, I welcome what this month brings and hope all will join in the many events celebrating the unique history, culture and traditions of our First peoples,” said Vice Chairman Lisa Murkowski.
This week, Senator Murkowski and Senator Schatz, Chairman of the SCIA, will co-lead introduction of a Senate Resolution designating November 2021 as National Native American Heritage Month. Senator Murkowski has supported a Senate Resolution designating November as National Native American Heritage Month since the 108th Congress.
Support of Senate Resolution Designating November as National Native American Heritage Month
In 1990, President George H. W. Bush approved a House Joint Resolution (Pub. L. 101-343) designating November 1990 as “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar Congressional Resolutions, 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. November has become a month of recognition for the significant contributions Native people continue to make to our country.
Other Notable Events and Items Taking Place in November
GAO Report on MMIW
Today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report, Missing or Murdered Indigenous Women, New Efforts Are Underway but Opportunities Exist to Improve the Federal Response, requested in a letter by Senator Murkowski and 17 members of Congress. The letter was sent on May 6, 2019, to GAO Comptroller General, Gene Dodaro, asking for the office to study and make recommendations surrounding the federal response to cases involving missing or murdered American Indian and Alaska Natives. This report coincides with the current implementation of Senator Murkowski led legislation, Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act, which became law in October of 2020. The report can be found here.
Veterans Day (November 11)
American Indian and Alaska Native people remain the highest per capita to be represented in the United States Armed Forces. Native Americans have continued to serve since the country’s beginnings to present day. In November 2013, carrying out the Code Talkers Recognition Act of 2008, Congress awarded silver medals posthumously to Tlingit code talkers Robert “Jeff” David, Sr., Richard Bean, Sr., George Lewis, Jr., and brothers Harvey Jacobs and Mark Jacobs, Jr for their dedication and service during World War II. Ozzie Sheakley attended the Congressional ceremony in Washington, D.C., along with representatives from thirty-two Tribes whose members were also code talkers, accepting the Congressional Gold Medal for their critical roles and efforts that saved many lives. We honor and thank Native American military members for their service to our country.
Rock Your Mocs Day (November 15)
Rock Your Mocs Day is a worldwide event that takes place to celebrate the beauty and individuality of all Indigenous communities. This event commemorates Native American Heritage Month by participation in wearing beaded moccasins, maklaks, or other traditional footwear.
White House Tribal Nations Summit (November 15-16)
The Biden administration will host tribal leaders from across the country to attend the virtual White House Tribal Nations Summit. This event provides an opportunity for Tribes to engage in a dialogue with federal officials on key issues and policies affecting their communities.
2021 National Native American Languages Summit (November 18-19)
This is the 8th National Native American Language Summit based on the requirements of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Department of Education’s White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education (WHIAIANE), Department of Health and Human Service’s Administration for Native Americans (ANA), and the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education (BIE). The goal of the summit is to identify ways to further support communities teaching Native languages, improve accountability for educational progress, provide measurable goals to show success and encourage youth to gain the skills to speak their language.
Native American Heritage Day (November 26)
The Friday following Thanksgiving is a civil holiday observing the day as Native American Heritage Day. This acknowledgment further highlights the importance of recognizing the many contributions that Native people have made to the United States.
Resolution to Recognize the Students of Indian Boarding Schools
Last month, Vice Chairman Murkowski introduced a bipartisan Senate Concurrent Resolution, supporting the designation of September 30, as a National Day of Remembrance for the Native American children who died while attending a United States Indian boarding school, and to recognize, honor, and support the survivors of Indian boarding schools, and their families and communities. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs members, Chairman Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) are co-sponsors to the resolution. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is also a co-sponsor. A bipartisan companion House Concurrent Resolution was also introduced by Congressman Don Young (R-AK) along with Representatives Tom Cole (R-OK), Sharice Davids (D-KS), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Ed Case (D-HI), Kaiali’i Kahele (D-HI), David Joyce (R-OH), and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK). The Senate Concurrent Resolution was introduced and awaiting passage.