By the President of the United States
During our annual observance of National American Indian Heritage Month, we celebrate and study the rich history and folklore of America's native peoples. Long before this country was settled by immigrants from around the world, it was the home of generations of Native Americans. Each of the many different tribes that inhabited this vast country had a unique and vibrant culture, as well as its own system of social order. The first European settlers in the New World benefitted greatly from what they learned from this country's original inhabitants, who gave them a wealth of knowledge and skills in such areas as hunting, farming, and crafting tools. Today all Americans can continue to learn from the rich heritage of this country's native peoples.
By the time we reach adulthood, most of us are familiar with the legends of Pocahontas, Geronimo, Sacajawea, and Hiawatha. However, National American Indian Heritage Month provides an opportunity to learn more about the contributions and the achievements of countless other Native Americans. This month, we remember individuals such as Seattle, the chief and orator for whom the great city in Washington is named; Sequoyah, who taught thousands of his fellow Cherokee to read and write; and Ely Parker, the son of a Seneca leader, who served as an officer under General Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War and became the first Indian to serve as Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Fifty years after the beginning of United States participation in World War II, we also honor the Navajo code-talkers, whose use of their native tongue and secret code words was never broken by enemy forces.
Every tribe of Native Americans is unique, and each has celebrated heroes of its own. Yet together generations of Native Americans have quietly strengthened and enriched the United States. American culture has been greatly influenced by the customs and traditions of this country's native peoples, and all of us can be grateful for their outstanding example of environmental stewardship.
This month, we also celebrate the unique government-to-government relationship that exists between Indian tribes and the Federal Government. That relationship has weathered various conflicts, inequities, and changes over the years, evolving into a vibrant partnership in which more than 500 tribal entities stand shoulder to shoulder with the other governmental units that form our Republic. We will continue to seek greater mutual understanding and trust in this relationship, as well as the further advancement of tribal self-government.
The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 172, has designated the month of November 1991 as "National American Indian Heritage Month" and has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this occasion.
Now, Therefore, I, George Bush, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim November 1991 as National American Indian Heritage Month. I urge all Americans, as well as their elected representatives at the Federal, State, and local levels, to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and sixteenth.
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 4:07 p.m., October 30, 1991.]