SOUTHERN UTAH — The “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621 – a feast lasting three days, according to attendee Edward Winslow and was attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims.
It wasn’t until 1941, though, when the third Thursday of November was actually declared our national holiday of celebration; a time when family and friends all across the nation gather together and give thanks for all of our blessings. Perhaps this is why November, at least in part, was chosen as the month to observe Native Americans.
In August 1990, President George H.W. Bush declared the month of November as National American Indian Heritage Month, thereafter commonly referred to as Native American Heritage Month. The Bill read in part that “the President has authorized and requested to call upon Federal, State and local Governments, groups and organizations and the people of the United States to observe such month with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities”. This was a landmark Bill honoring America’s Tribal people. The primary goal of this commemorative month is to provide a platform for the Native peoples of the United States of share their culture, traditions, music, crafts, dance, and ways and concepts of life.
The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR), through the leadership of its American Indian Committee, greatly encourages state and local chapters to help preserve and share the culture of our nation’s Native American people and to provide educational support and opportunities for its citizens. With Southern Utah being so rich in Native American history, DAR’s Color Country Chapter set a course to first share the history behind National Native American Heritage Month with various entities and then seek support to observe and thank our Native Americans in unique and special ways.
Michelle Madsen, the chapter’s American Indian Chairperson, believes the chapter’s mission was 100 percent accomplished.
- Three proclamations were received from the city mayors of Ivins, Santa Clara and Toquerville all proclaiming to observe National Native American Heritage Month in their respective cities. The city of Toquerville also plans to plant a tree in honor of Chief Toquer, their city’s namesake.
- As for businesses, Nielson RV located in St George is honoring all of the Native American veterans currently buried at Shivwits Cemetery by purchasing their wreaths that will be laid upon their graves at this year’s Wreaths Across America, an annual nationwide event being held on Dec 15th. Karma Grayman, member of a local Paiute tribe, was the featured guest speaker at
- Color Country Chapter’s November meeting. Ms. Grayman shared her personal goal of preserving the Native language of her ancestors by teaching it to the local Paiute children. Several of her students accompanied her, sharing what they have learned both in song and through stories. At the end of their presentation, Chapter Regent Valerie King handed Ms. Grayman a basket filled with books for Red Mountain Elementary School and a $250 check for the Washington County School District Indian Education fund. Gift bags filled with school supplies were given to her students.