Native American Heritage Day

The day after Thanksgiving is Native American Heritage Day, a day dedicated to honoring American Indians.

Native American Heritage Day

Native American Heritage Day

Native American Heritage Day is a civil holiday observed the day after Thanksgiving in the United States. American Indians are accorded special honor on this day, celebrating their rich cultures, accomplishments, contributions, and heritage.

President Barack Obama signed "The Native American Heritage Day Resolution 2009," designating the Friday after Thanksgiving as "Native American Heritage Day." The resolution had unanimous support in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

In signing H.J. Res. 40 into law, President Obama stated, "I encourage every American to join me in observing Native American Heritage Day ... It is also important for all of us to understand the rich culture, tradition, and history of Native Americans and their status today, and to appreciate the contributions that First Americans have made and will continue to make to our Nation."

In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 "National American Indian Heritage Month." Similar proclamations, 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.

Native Americans in the Military

Perhaps the best-known service of American Indians in our military is the "Code Talkers," whose contributions led to victories in battles during WWI and WWII worldwide.

During World Wars I and II, hundreds of Native American service members from more than twenty tribes used their Indigenous languages to send secret, coded messages enemies could never break. Known as code talkers, these men helped U.S. forces achieve military victory in some of the most significant battles of the twentieth century.

Ultimately, approximately 534 American Indian code talkers were deployed in World War II. The U.S. Marine Corps, which operated the most extensive code-talking program, sent approximately 420 Diné (Navajo) language speakers to help win the war in the Pacific. In Europe, Comanche code talkers participated in the D-Day invasion of Nazi-occupied France and many significant campaigns that crushed the Third Reich.

Consequently, in 1940 and 1941, the army recruited Comanche, Meskwaki, Chippewa, and Oneida language speakers to train as code talkers; they later added eight Hopi speakers. In April 1942, the Marine Corps trained twenty-nine Navajo men in combat and radio communications. They went on to serve as the foundation of the most extensive code-talking program in the military.

Navajo Code Talkers

Photo: National Archives photo no. 127-MN-69889-B, Smithsonian Institute
Navajo code talkers Corporal Henry Bahe Jr. and Private First Class George H. Kirk. Bougainville, South Pacific, December 1943.
Information gathered from "Why We Serve" on the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian. Click for more details.

EGA Shop, purchase Marine Corps Clothing and Support Our Troops at the same time!
Marine Parents and the Marine Corps
Recruit Parents
Whats After Boot Camp
After The Corps