NIGA acknowledges passage of Native American Heritage Day bill

Staff reports
10/24/08

WASHINGTON – The National Indian Gaming Association acknowledges the passing into law of House Joint Resolution 62, which designates the Friday after Thanksgiving as Native American Heritage Day 2008.

The Native American Heritage Day 2008 Bill encourages the people of the United States, as well as federal, state and local governments and interested groups and organizations, to observe Native American Heritage Day with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities. The bill is supported by the National Indian Gaming Association, the National Congress of American Indians and Indian tribes across the country. The resolution was introduced by Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif., and Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, who helped move the resolution through the Senate.

NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens Jr. said, “This is a great moment for Indian country. Signing this bill into law officially recognizes, remembers and formally celebrates the history, achievements and certainly the major contributions to the American democracy by Native America.

“This law encourages the United States to honor Native America by celebrating Native American Heritage Day in all of your communities as a way to create stronger public awareness and understanding of Indian country, our culture, traditions, language and the strength, honor and patriotism of our people.”

Stevens praised Baca and Inouye. He also commended the efforts of NCAI and President Joe Garcia for joining NIGA in this effort.

The Native American Heritage Day Act 2008:

Designates Friday, Nov. 28, 2008, as Native American Heritage Day.

Encourages the people of the United States, as well as federal, state and local governments and interested groups and organizations, to observe such day with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities, including activities related to:

The historical status of tribal governments as well as the present-day status of American Indians;

Native cultures, traditions and languages; and

The rich Native American cultural legacy.

Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush signed proclamations designating the month of November as Native American Heritage Month in previous years. Passage and signing H.J. Res. 62 establishes into law for the year 2008 an official day of remembrance and recognition of Native peoples.

NIGA Executive Director Mark Van Norman said, “Native Americans have been seeking a day of recognition since 1912. This day honors the original Native Americans, their strengths wisdom and fight for freedom, and it recognizes the continued vitality and beauty of the Native American cultures.”

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