National American Indian Heritage Month 2016

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  • 355 Fighter Wing Equal Opportunity Office
November is National American Indian Heritage month, honoring American Indians and Alaska Natives. This observance recognizes American Indians for their respect for natural resources and the Earth, for their many distinct and important contributions to the United States and having served with valor in our nation’s conflicts. The Society of American Indian Government Employees have selected the theme “Serving our Nations” for this year’s remembrance event.

President Reagan issued Presidential Proclamation 5577 in November 1986 proclaiming the first American Indian Week. He states,

“Many of the foods we eat and the medicines and remedies we use were introduced by Indians and more than one highway follows an Indian trail. Indians make contributions in every area and endeavor and American life, and our literature and all our arts draw upon Indian themes and wisdom. Countless American Indians have served in our Armed Forces and have fought valiantly for our country.”

Later in 1990, Congress chose to designate the month of November to recognize American Indians.

The nation’s population of American Indians and Alaska Natives, including those of more than one race, was 5.4 million in 2014, making up about two percent of the total population. By the year 2060, the population of this heritage group is expected to grow to be over 10.2 million.

There are 567 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, with more than 100 state-recognized tribes across the United States. Each tribe has their own unique history, beliefs, and culture. American Indians and Alaska natives have strived to preserve their heritage. In 2009, Joe Medicine Crow received America’s highest civilian honor when he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for serving as the tribal historian for more than 50 years documenting, gathering, and preserving information that otherwise would have been lost.

Generation after generation of American Indians and Alaska natives continue to serve not only their nations, but the United States with dignity and honor. According to the Department of Defense, 26,995 American Indians serve the Armed Forces, making up 1.2 percent of the military population, and as of March 2014, there were 140,556 American Indian veterans.

During National Native American Heritage Month, we honor their legacy, and we recommit to strengthening our nation-to-nation partnerships. President Barack Obama summarized this when he said,

“Every year, our Nation pauses to reflect on the profound ways the First Americans have shaped our country’s character and culture. The first stewards of our environment, early voices for the values that define our Nation, and models of government to our Founding Fathers—American Indians and Alaska Natives helped build the very fabric of America. Today, their spirit and many contributions continue to enrich our communities and strengthen our country.”

This month, please take the time to learn a little more about the American Indians and Alaska natives. Most of the information for this article was derived from Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute special observance program information. If you would like more information on this special observance please visit or contact the Equal Opportunity Office at 228-5509.

By Act of Congress,By the administrative procedures under 25 C.F.R. Part 83, or By decision of a United States court. (n.d.). BIA Website. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from
By the President of the United States of America. (n.d.). Ronald Reagan: Proclamation 5577 - American Indian Week, 1986. Retrieved October 17, 2016, from
FFF: American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month: November 2015. (2015). Retrieved October 17, 2016, from
Native American Heritage Month 2015. (n.d.). Retrieved October 17, 2016, from
Presidential Proclamation -- National Native American Heritage Month, 2014. (2014). Retrieved October 17, 2016, from