November is Native American Heritage Month, meant to honor the ancient cultures of native people in the United States as well as bring awareness to the atrocities brought against them by colonists, politicians and soldiers.
But last week, President Donald Trump decided to make November “National American History and Founders Month,” to celebrate the country’s “dedication to promoting liberty and justice.” His administration put out the news in a press release on Halloween, the Washington Post reported.
“By centering this founders’ narrative and calling it American history, it completely erases Native people,” Tara Houska, a tribal attorney in Minnesota, told The Washington Post. “It’s an uncomfortable truth that the first people in this country were here before the founding of the U.S.”
The White House has not replaced Native American Heritage Month necessarily, just attempted to add recognition of the white founding fathers of the constitution, many of whom organized and spearheaded the taking of Native lands and destruction of their traditions.
Scholars and Native American tribes have come out against the administration’s announcement and questioned the narrative the press releases have been trying to push.
“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,” Simon Moya-Smith, a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation, told the Post. “They were invaders. They massacred, they murdered, they demonized.”
The White House’s website now features a proclamation about National American History Month and one for National Native American Heritage Month appeared on Nov. 5.
But just the addition of the so-called American History Month has offended many.
“It subverts and insults the purpose of this month 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,” Moya-Smith told the Post.