Rep. Joe Baca: Paying tribute to Native Americans
"This Friday, November 27, we celebrate the second ever national Native American Heritage Day, to honor the original native residents of this great land of ours.
American families gather together on the fourth Thursday of every November to celebrate Thanksgiving in remembrance of a feast hosted by the Wampanoag Native Americans for the Pilgrims at Plymouth in 1621. While we always remember the feast of Thanksgiving, we seldom pay homage to the Wampanoag hosts or recount what happened to them afterward.
By the time the Jamestown colony was founded in Virginia in 1607, the most accurate estimates are there were substantially more than 30 million Native Americans thriving in numerous tribes and cultures from the North American shores of Alaska to the tip of Cape Horn in South America. Unfortunately, the treatment of Native Americans over the next 300 years is one of the darkest chapters in American history.
It wasn't until the 20th century that America began to right many of the wrongs committed against our land's original inhabitants, and the first proposals were made for a day to honor Native Americans. Red Fox James, a member of the Blackfoot tribe, rode horseback from state to state in 1914 to gain support for a day of tribute. In 1915 Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a member of the Seneca tribe, persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to designate a day of recognition for Native Americans."
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Rep. Joe Baca: A Day To Honor Native Americans
(The Huffington Post 11/25)