This month the IDEAs Council is diving into Native American Citizenship Day and Juneteenth National Independence Day.
Native American Citizenship Day is observed on June 2. It was on this day in 1924 that the Indian Citizenship Act by Congress granted citizenship to all Native Americans born in the United States. The day celebrates the history, heritage and culture of American Indian tribes across the country and celebrates their contribution to the country’s culture and is a reminder of their enduring legacy.
In 1870, census data showed that the estimated population of Native Americans was more than the population of five states and 10 territories, yet 92 percent of the American Indians were not citizens. To combat this, the Dawes Act of 1887 was passed to give conditioned citizenship to Native American, though this legislation had many flaws.
The poverty and exploitation resulting from the Dawes Act led to the passage of the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act. This legislation promoted Native American autonomy by prohibiting allotment of tribal lands, returning some surplus land, and urging tribes to engage in active self-government. Rather than imposing the legislation on Native Americans, individual tribes were allowed to accept or reject the Indian Reorganization Act.
From 1934 to 1953, the U.S. government invested in the development of infrastructure, health care, education and the quality of life on Indian lands improved. With the aid of federal courts and the government, over two million acres of land were returned to various tribes.
Juneteenth, officially named Juneteenth National Independence Day, is also called Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Black Independence Day and Juneteenth Independence Day. It is a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, observed annually on June 19.
In 1863 during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, that declared more than three million slaves living in the Confederate states be freed. More than two years would pass before the news reached African Americans living in Texas. It was not until Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, TX, on June 19, 1865, that the state’s residents finally learned that slavery had been abolished. The former slaves immediately began to celebrate with prayer, feasting, song and dance.
Juneteenth became a state holiday in Texas in 1980, and a number of other states subsequently followed suit. In 2021, Juneteenth was made a federal holiday.
Up next month: July – International Non-Binary and Disability Independence Day and Nelson Mandela Remembrance Day