ODU Native (First) American Heritage Month
OIR, in conjunction with the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia, is proud to host a celebration of Native (First) American History Month.
Performances, tribal information and vendor stations featuring
Chief Lynette Allston of the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia; Jesse Bass, Council Member and Event Coordinator for the Nansemond Indian Tribal Association and drumkeeper for Full Circle Singers; and Melissa DeSantis of the Lakota Sioux, from Pine Ridge South Dakota.
About Native American Heritage Month
Information courtesy of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior
What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S., has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose.
One of the very proponents of an American Indian Day was Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, who was the director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, N.Y. He persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the “First Americans” and for three years they adopted such a day. In 1915, the annual Congress of the American Indian Association meeting in Lawrence, Kans., formally approved a plan concerning American Indian Day. It directed its president, Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe, to call upon the country to observe such a day. Coolidge issued a proclamation on Sept. 28, 1915, which declared the second Saturday of each May as an American Indian Day and contained the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens.
The year before this proclamation was issued, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. On December 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House. There is no record, however, of such a national day being proclaimed.
The first American Indian Day in a state was declared on the second Saturday in May 1916 by the governor of New York. Several states celebrate the fourth Friday in September. In Illinois, for example, legislators enacted such a day in 1919. Presently, several states have designated Columbus Day as Native American Day, but it continues to be a day we observe without any recognition as a national legal holiday.
In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants on the name (including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month”) have been issued each year since 1994.
Tribes in Virginia
Iroquois (Algonkin: Irinakhoiw, ‘real adders’, with the French suffix -ois).The confederation of Iroquoian tribes known in history, among other names, by that of the Five Nations, comprising the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca. Their name for themselves as a political body was Oñgwanonsioñni’, ‘we are of the extended lodge.’
The number of the Iroquois villages varied greatly at different periods and from decade to decade. In 1657 there were about 24, but after the conquest of the Erie the entire country from the Genesee to the west watershed of Lake Erie came into possession of the Iroquoian tribes, which afterward settled colonies on the upper waters of the Allegheny and Susquehanna and on the north shore of Lake Ontario, so that by 1750 their villages may have numbered about 50. The population of the Iroquois also varied much at different periods. About the middle of the 17th century the Five Nations were supposed to have reached their highest point, and in 1677 and 1685 they were estimated at about 16,000. In 1689 they were estimated at about 12,850, but in the next 9 years they lost more than half by war and by desertions to Canada. The most accurate estimates for the 18th century gave to the Six Nations and their colonies about 10,000 or 12,000 souls. In 1774 they were estimated at 10,000 to 12,500. In 1904 they numbered about 16,100. Read more →
Recognized Iroquoian tribes in Virginia:
The most populous linguistic family North of Mexico, next to the Algonquian. The name is taken from a ‘term applied to the largest and best known tribal group or confederacy belonging to the family, the Sioux or Dakota, which, in turn, is an abbreviation of Nadowessioux, a French corruption of Nadowe-is-iw, the appellation given them by the Chippewa. It signifies ‘snake,’ ‘adder,’ and, by metaphor, ‘enemy.’
It is impossible to make statements of the customs and habits of these people that will be true for the entire group. Nearly all of the eastern tribes and most of the southern tribes belonging to the western group raised corn, but the Dakota (except some of the eastern bands) and the Crows depended almost entirely on the buffalo and other game animals, the buffalo entering very deeply into the economic and religious life of all the tribes of this section. In the east the habitations were, bark and mat wigwams, but on the plains earth lodges and skin tipis were used. Taking the reports of the United States and Canadian Indian offices as a basis and making a small allowance for bands or individuals not here enumerated, the total number of Indians of Siouan stock may be placed at about 40,800.
The Tutelo, Biloxi, and probably the rest of the eastern Siouan tribes were organized internally into clans with maternal descent; the Dakota, Mandan, and Hidatsa consisted of many non-totemic bands or villages, the Crows of non-totemic gentes, and the rest of the tribes of totemic gentes. Read more →
Recognized Siouan tribes in Virginia:
Algonquian Family (adapted from the name of the Algonkin tribe). A linguistic stock which formerly occupied a more extended area than any other in North America. Their territory reached from the east shore of Newfoundland to the Rocky Mountains and front Churchill River to Pamlico Sound. The east parts of this territory were separated by an area occupied by Iroquoian tribes. Among the tribes from south New England to Carolina, including especially the Mohegan, Delawares, the people of the Powhatan confederacy, and the Chippewa, descent was reckoned in the female line; among the Potawatomi, Abnaki, Blackfeet, and probably most of the northern tribes, in the male line. Within recent times descent has been paternal also among the Menominee, Sauk and Fox, Illinois, Kickapoo, and Shawnee, and, although it has been stated that it was anciently maternal, there is no satisfactory proof of this. The Cree, Arapaho, and Cheyenne are without clans or gentes.
The Virginia tribes, under the able guidance of Powhatan and Opechancanough, formed an exception to the general rule. They presented a united front to the whites, and resisted for years every step of their advance until the Indians were practically exterminated. From the close of the Revolution to the treaty of Greenville (1795) the tribes of the Ohio valley also made a desperate stand against the Americans, but in this they had the encouragement, if not the more active support, of the British in Canada as well as of other Indians. In individual character many of the Algonquian chiefs rank high, and Tecumseh stands out prominently as one of the noblest figures in Indian history. Read more →
Recognized Algonquian tribes in Virginia:
- Eastern Chickahominy
- Upper Mattaponi
More Native American Resources
- Native American Heritage Month website
- The DoD Native American Heritage Month Resource
- OIR’s resource page for Native American students
- North American Ethnographic Collection
- Chief Washakie Foundation
- University of Washington: Native American History
- Indian Country: Today Media Network
- Native American Times
- A Celebration of Native American Day
- American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month
- Crazy Crow Trading Post: Virginia Pow Wow
- Virginia Indian Heritage Program
- Virginia’s First People
- Wisconsin Becomes the First State to Outlaw Indian Mascots
- NCAA American Indian mascot ban will begin Feb. 1