Native American Day
Native American Day is held on the fourth Friday of September in Nevada and California. It celebrates Native American culture, honoring the cultural contributions of Native Americans to their state's history and to the country as a whole. Learning initiatives focusing on the traditions and heritage of Native Americans are organized, and Native American groups organize markets and gatherings with singing and dancing.
Indian Day, declared by California Governor Culbert Olson in 1939, was an early antecedent to the Golden State's Native American Day. In 1968, Governor Ronald Reagan signed a resolution calling for American Indian Day to be held on the fourth Friday in September. The name changed in 1998 when the California Assembly passed AB 1953—written by Assemblyman Joe Baca—and it was signed by Governor Pete Wilson. The holiday is often referred to as California Native American Day. Luncheons, student and teacher conferences, and celebrations with bird songs, music, art, and food are regular parts of the day.
Native American Day has been held in Nevada since 1997. Nevada Revised Statute 236.040 authorized and requested the governor to issue a proclamation to designate Native American Day "in commemoration of the Indian people and their efforts to maintain their culture, customs and traditions and in recognition of the many contributions of Native Americans to the economic and cultural heritage of all residents of the United States."
Other states have similar holidays. American Indian Day is observed in Tennessee, also on the fourth Friday of September. Another Native American Day is held in South Dakota and Wisconsin and is observed on the second Monday in October.
How to Observe Native American Day
- Attend an event being held in honor of the day.
- If you are celebrating in California, visit the website dedicated to California's observance for more information.
- Support Native American organizations.
- Learn about Native American heritage. Visit a museum such as the National Museum of the American Indian. Read a book about the cultural history of the Native American tribes in your state. Watch a film that focuses on Native Americans.