On Aug. 3, 1990, former president George H. W. Bush declared the month of November as National American Indian Heritage Month for the purpose of paying tribute to the rich heritage and traditions of indigenous people. Now, nearly 30 years later, our alleged President Donald Trump has sparked outrage after seemingly rebranding November as something else entirely: National American History and Founders Month.
The Washington Post reports that this edict came last week with the intent to celebrate our country’s “dedication to promoting liberty and justice.” Slight problem: There’s no mention whatsoever of indigenous people. And with the erasure of their accomplishments, identity and traditions—which area very real thing in this country—many have taken to Twitter to air out their concerns.
So is this grand unveiling of All Lives Matter Month a deliberate slight or an unintentional gaffe?
It turns out that Native American Heritage Month wasn’t actually replaced. In fact, the White House issued a proclamation on Halloween that makes note of the “long-standing Native history remembrance.” It just doesn’t appear on their website for some inexplicable reason.
Which begs the question: if Native American Heritage Month is already in place for November, why not schedule National American History and Founders Month some other time? Like March. I mean, do we really need St. Patrick’s Day?
But to that end, this continued erasure is what Simon Moya-Smith, a writer and member of the Oglala Lakota Nation, takes issue with.
“It subverts and insults the purpose of this month,” he told the Washington Post, “by saying, ‘We’re also going to celebrate the white people that hated the Indians.’ Even if he does make the proclamation, people can see that in and of itself is lip service.”
He added, “The proclamation is a clear rejection of what Native American Heritage Month stands for: that we, as indigenous people, survived these so-called Founding Fathers who weren’t founders at all. They were invaders. They massacred, they murdered, they demonized.”
Where’s the lie?
Let’s also not forget that just last month, He Who Shall Never Be Barack Obama insisted that the October holiday we’ve come to recognize as Indigenous Peoples’ Day “will always be Columbus Day.”
So while Trump will never not be a serial bigot, hopefully, the White House takes steps to rectify this matter and give indigenous people and their ancestors the respect and reverence they deserve.