ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Anniston, Ala -- Native American Heritage Month has evolved from its beginnings as a week-long celebration in 1986, when President Reagan proclaimed the week of Nov. 23-30, 1986 as American Indian Week.
During November, Native American Heritage Month is celebrated to honor the remarkable Native Americans who have contributed to improve the character of the nation. This marks a time to rejoice in diverse and rich cultures, histories, and traditions and to appreciate the great contributions of the Native Americans. This observance allows us to spread awareness about tribes and educate people about the various challenges faced by the Native Americans in the past and today. Throughout this month, we commit to our continued support of the remaining Native American tribes and let the world know about their sacrifices.
National Native American Month started off as an effort to get a day of appreciation and acknowledgment for the unique contributions made by the first Americans for the growth and establishment of the United States. The effort has now resulted in a whole month being celebrated for that purpose.
Dr. Arthur C. Parker was one of the first supporters of having an American Indian Day. He was a Seneca Indian and the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, New York. He was also the one to convince the Boy Scouts of America to create a day for the Native Americans — the Boy Scouts adopted this observance for three days.
According to the Encyclopedia of Alabama, “Alabama's indigenous history can be traced back more than 10,000 years, to the Paleoindian Period. Cultural and technological developments brought changes to the societies that inhabited what is now Alabama, with the most visible evidence of those changes being the remarkable earthen mounds built by the Mississippian people throughout the Southeast, in Alabama most notably at Moundville. By the time European fortune hunters and colonialist explorers arrived in the sixteenth century, the Indian groups in the Southeast had coalesced into the cultural groups known from the historic period: The Cherokees, Choctaws, Creeks, and Chickasaws, and smaller groups such as the Alabama-Coushattas and the Yuchis. As more Europeans and then U.S. settlers flooded into the Southeast, these peoples were subjected to continual assaults on their land, warfare, the spread of non-native diseases, and exploitation of their resources. In the 1830s, the majority of the Native Americans in Alabama were forced from their land to make way for cotton plantations and European American expansion. Today, the MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians maintain their traditions on portions of their tribal homelands in the state.”
The depot observed the occasion Nov. 17 with a luncheon at DeSoto Entertainment Center, Bldg. 251. Guest speaker was Aimee Grey, director of the Anniston Museum of Natural History.
A service of Auburn University Outreach.