Saturday, January 29, 2005

Push for a Native American Day in Oklahoma

Push for a Native American Day in Oklahoma
State would become third to do so

Sam Lewin

An Oklahoma lawmaker has introduced a bill to declare Native American Day to be observed annually on the 2nd Monday in October.

Rep. Glen Bud Smithson, a Democrat from Sallisaw, has received praise for his authorship of the bill. Mike Graham, a member of the Cherokee Nation and the founder of United Native America, said the move is long overdue.

“From our standpoint-Oklahoma has the largest Native American population in the country. Even on the license plates it says Oklahoma is Native America,” Graham told the Native American Times.

Smithson has already filed the legislation, House Bill 1216. If the law were enacted, Oklahoma would become just the second state to have a Native American Day as a state holiday. South Dakota established the holiday in 1989 to replace Columbus Day. Wyoming celebrates a similar holiday on the second Friday in May.

While Graham thinks there are multiple benefits to the holiday, he says two really stand out: tourism and education. Both are areas where the Sooner State lags behind the rest of the country.

“It would be a good deal for the school system. Kids could learn more about the tribal nations in their area of the state. It would be a major boost to the tourist industry,” he said.

Thousands attended South Dakota’s Native American Day celebrations last year.

Graham doesn’t want to stop at a state holiday. United Native America was originally founded in 1993 to push for a federal holiday, something Graham thinks will eventually happen.

“Some day people will wake up and see that Native Americans deserve their own holiday,” he said.

from: Native Times


roger said...

I think this issue should be pushed one step further. I think there should be a Native American history month.

There is after all an African American (black) history month (February), and as far back as I can remember, it was always celebrated (in several states).

2 Buckets said...

There is a National Native American Heritage Month that George Bush signed into law on Aug.3, 1990.
While not an American Indian History Month, that was a step in the right direction.