For the first time, federal legislation has set aside the day after Thanksgiving — for this year only — to honor the contributions American Indians have made to the United States.
Frank Suniga, a descendent ofwho lives in Oregon, said he and others began pushing in 2001 for a national day that recognizes tribal heritage.
By MARY HUDETZ, Associated Press Writer
Suniga, 79, proposed his idea to a cultural committee that is part of the Portland-based Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians. The organization took on the cause of a commemorative day, as did the and other groups.
Congress passed legislation this year designating the day as Native American Heritage Day, and President George W. Bush signed it last month.
The measure notes that more Americans Indians than any other group, per capita, serve in the U.S. military. It also cites tribes’ artistic, musical and agricultural contributions.
“The Indians kept the Pilgrims alive with turkeys and wild game,” Suniga said. “That’s the reason it was attached to the Thanksgiving weekend.”