Native American Heritage Month is also commonly referred to as American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. Native American Heritage Month originally began as a week-long celebration in 1986, when President Reagan proclaimed the week of November 23-30, 1986 as “American Indian Week.” In 1990, President George H. W. Bush declared the entire month of November as National American Indian Heritage Month. Additionally, in 2008, President George W. Bush established the Friday immediately following Thanksgiving Day of each year as “Native American Heritage Day.”
The month of November is a time to celebrate the diverse cultures, traditions, histories, and important contributions of Native people. This month also provides the opportunity to educate themselves about tribes and the unique challenges Native people have faced and continue to face.
When focusing on diversity initiatives in the legal field, Native Americans are often overlooked. In fact, there are only 2,640 Native Americans attorneys in the United States, comprising 0.2 percent of the more than 1.2 million attorneys in the United States. Of these attorneys, approximately 60% of Native American Lawyers practice Indian Law. The first known American Indian, who was trained professionally as a lawyer was James McDonald. McDonald was a member of the Choctaw tribe, and focused his efforts on the promotion of Indian education and wrote to Congress on behalf of tribal leaders. During the 1820’s, he attempted to prevent his tribe’s removal from its Mississippi homeland. While he ultimately was unsuccessful in that effort, his arguments laid the foundation for the future field of federal Indian Law.
BSP prides itself upon the respect and inclusivity of all backgrounds and ethnicities. Please join us in celebrating Native American Heritage Month.