5 Visionaries of the Pacific Northwest

By Richard Walker, Indian Country Today Media Network

Out of the Pacific Northwest come some visionary ideas for the protection of rights, exercise of sovereignty, intercultural understanding and meeting our future energy needs. Several of the leaders profiled in ICTMN’s recent compilation of tribal climate-adaptation plans were from Northwest tribes.

RELATED: 8 Tribes That Are Way Ahead of the Climate-Adaptation Curve

There are standouts in other areas as well. Whether they’re ensuring a long-term, sustainable energy supply, educating youngsters about Native history or standing up for prevention of violence against women, these five people are rocking the world with their forward thinking, innovation and commitment to social justice.

1. Deborah Parker, Tulalip: Protecting Native Women Under VAWA

Deborah Parker, Tulalip (Photo: MSNBC)
Deborah Parker, Tulalip (Photo: MSNBC)

 

 

Parker had a vision of an America in which Native American women received the same protection from violence as other women got. The freshman Tulalip Tribes Council vice chairwoman put her lobbying skills—and her personal story as a survivor of physical and sexual violence—behind the effort to win protections for Native women in the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Partly as a result of her efforts, the latest version of VAWA empowers tribal law and justice officials to arrest and prosecute non-Indians who commit crimes against women on tribal lands. Previously, federal prosecutors declined to prosecute a majority of violent crimes that occur in Indian country, including a large number of sexual abuse–related cases.

RELATED: Ending Violence Against Women: 19 Years of Progress

While lobbying for expansion of VAWA, Senator Patty Murray, D-Washington, cited data showing that statistically, in one year alone, 34 percent of Native women will be raped, 39 percent will be subjected to domestic violence, and 56 percent will marry a non-Indian “who most likely” would not be held liable for any violent crime committed if the tribal provisions were not included in the legislation.

“It’s a better bill because it not only ensures that existing safeguards are kept in place, it also expands protections to cover those who have needlessly been left to fend for themselves,” Murray said.

2. John McCoy, Tulalip: Teaching Native Culture in Public Schools

John McCoy, Tulalip
John McCoy, Tulalip

 

 

His leadership in the Washington State House of Representatives has yielded empowering legislation: Native culture now must be taught in public schools. Tribes can also start and operate their own schools. Tribal governments can gain control from the state over criminal and civil matters on Tribal lands. Qualified tribal police officers can become state-certified, giving them the authority to arrest non-Indians and enforce state law on tribal lands.

McCoy is chairman of the legislature’s Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee and is widely viewed as a strong voice for education and technology. He’s a champion of economic development on and off the hill. As general manager of Quil Ceda Village on the Tulalip reservation, he helped guide development of the village into an economically diverse community. It’s now the second-largest jobs provider in Snohomish County.

3. Gabe Galanda, Round Valley Indian Tribes: Paving the Red Road to Recovery for Inmates

Gabe Galanda (Photo: Courtesy Galanda & Broadman)
Gabe Galanda (Photo: Courtesy Galanda & Broadman)

 

 

The efforts of this Seattle-based lawyer are helping Native Americans in prison to walk the red road to recovery. Galanda formed the nonprofit organization Huy (pronounced “Hoyt”) essentially meaning “I’ll see you later.” (Coast Salish people do not have a word for “goodbye.”) In Washington state, Huy won changes in policies that blocked Native American inmates’ access to traditional religious practices and sacred items.

Huy is lobbying for similar changes nationwide. The organization asked the U.N. Human Rights Committee for an inquiry into restrictions upon Native inmates’ religious freedoms, and appeared as a friend of the court in support of those freedoms. Galanda argues that restricting such freedoms violates federal, state and international law. For some Native inmates, walking the red road while behind bars is the only road to rehabilitation and survival.

“Today’s powwow, everything that we do is to give back, to show our kids and our families that we’re going to work on getting back to those ways, getting back to spirituality and things that matter,” inmate Seymour Ruben told the Cheney Free Press during an August 1 powwow at Airway Heights Corrections Center.

4. Jeff Morris, Tsimshian: Revolutionizing Energy Conception and Consumption

Jeff Morris (Photo: Washington State Democrats)
Jeff Morris (Photo: Washington State Democrats)

 

 

Morris’s leadership in and out of the Washington State House of Representatives has changed the way Washingtonians think about and consume energy. During his tenure as chairman of the House Energy Committee, he has helped enact laws that improve energy efficiency and facilitate investment in green technology in the Evergreen State. Washington was one of the first states to adopt energy efficiency laws on appliances; by 2020 those efficiencies will conserve enough energy to power more than 90,000 homes, Morris has said. The legislature created minimum efficiency standards and testing procedures for 18 categories of electrical products.

The state Commerce Department must identify barriers to achieving zero net energy consumption and ways to overcome those barriers in updates to the state energy code. Recent changes to the state energy code are expected to result in a 70 percent reduction in energy use in new homes and buildings by 2031. Long-term loans are available to enable consumers to make energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements; borrowers repay the loans in their monthly utility bills.

When he’s not at the state capitol, Morris leads an institute that instructs U.S. and Canadian legislators on energy infrastructure and delivery, enhancing their ability to ensure that the region has a stable, secure and affordable energy supply and delivery system.

5. Darrell Hillaire, Lummi Nation: Standing Strong Against Drugs

Darrell Hillaire (Photo: Lummi Nation News)
Darrell Hillaire (Photo: Lummi Nation News)

 

 

The former chairman and current treasurer has never been afraid to take tough measures to improve the quality of life for his people. During his chairmanship, the Lummi initiated the Community Mobilization Against Drugs Initiative, which launched a tough yet culturally based attack on drug abuse in the community—investing in resources for investigation and prosecution, drug testing, surveillance cameras, banishment of dealers from the reservation and burning down drug houses.

This year he showed his creative chops, becoming a multimedia producer to improve intercultural relations and non-Native understanding of the Lummi and their story. He produced an audio version of a popular book on Coast Salish culture; a short film on a foster child’s return home to the reservation, including a dream sequence featuring animated Coast Salish figures; and a stage production on unkept promises from the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott. The play has been performed before sellout crowds at Bellingham High School, Silver Reef Casino Hotel Resort and Seattle University.

Hillaire also used the productions to build intergenerational relationships, involving elders as well as students from the Lummi Youth Academy he founded.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/11/05/5-visionaries-pacific-northwest-152085

Power Brokers IV, Pacific Northwest: The Most Tribes, But Few Legislators

Brian Daffron, ICTMN

The “Power Brokers” series travels to the Northwest and West Coast, whose traditional tribal lands house some of the most ethnically diverse cultures in the United States. Yet, among the states along the West Coast and Northwest, there is little representation in state government. Indian Country Today Media Network contacted the administrative offices—as well as legislative assistants—for the states of Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington State, Idaho and Nevada. Among these states, only two—Alaska and Washington—have Native people within its legislative body – an interesting statistic given California is home to the second largest federally recognized tribes within a state at 103, and Nevada is home to more than 20.

Alaska

According to the Environmental Protection Agency website, there are 229 federally recognized tribes, villages and Native village corporations within the state of Alaska. From the 229 tribal governments, the 2012 U.S. Census shows that the American Indian and Alaskan Native percentage is 14.8 percent. The halls of Alaska’s state legislature have six Native members overall—two in the Senate and four in the House.

Senator Lyman Hoffman (D)

Tribal Afflilation: Yupik

Senate District: S

Years in Office: 1991-1992 and 1995-Present

Previous Legislative Experience: Alaska House of Representatives, 1986-1990 and 1993-1994

Committees: Community and Regional Affairs; Fish & Game Subcommittee; Transportation & Public Facilities—Finance Subcommittee; Legislative Centennial Commission; Finance; Governor-Finance Subcommittee; World Trade; Alternate, Legislative Council; Commerce, Community & Economic Development–Finance Subcommittee; Legislature—Finance Subcommittee; Alaska Arctic Policy Commission

Key Legislation: Co-Sponsor, Energy Assistance Program; revision of state brand board

Senator Donny Olson (D)

Tribal Affiliation: Inupiaq (Golovin)

Senate District: T

Years in Office: 2001-Present

Committees: Part of a Republican/Democrat Coalition—One of two Democrats invited within coalition; Finance; Judiciary; State Affairs

Key Legislation: Creation of Native Language Preservation Council; controlled substances classification; legislation concerning U.S. Coast Guard operations in the Arctic; request for U.S. government to open oil and gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; establishment of Alaska Mining Day; reduction of salmon catch by trawl fishers

Representative Bryce Edgmon (D)

Tribal Affiliation: Choggiung Village Corporation

House District: 36

Years in Office: 2006-Present

Additional Experience: President, Choggiung Village Corporation

Committees: Chair, Subcommittee on Corrections; Chair, Subcommittee on Public Safety; Finance; Subcommittee on Health and Social Services; Alternate, Alaska Arctic Policy Commission

Key Legislation: Change of the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” in Alaska statutes; act relating to performance reviews, audits and termination of Alaska executive and legislative branches, the University of Alaska and the Alaska Court System; request to the Department of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management to plug legacy well drilling sites; reinstatement of child and adult immunization programs in the state Department of Health and Social Services; renewable energy grant fund; loan for commercial fishing entry permits; act making regional Native housing authorities eligible for grants from the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation; law requiring the Department of Natural Resources to deliver a fishing stream access report to the legislature and governor’s office; Village Safe Water Act

Representative Neal Foster (D)

Tribal Affiliation: Sitnasuak Native Corporation

House District: 39

Previous Experience: Vice-President, Sitnasuak Native Corporation

Years in Office: 2009-Present

Committees: Co-Chair, Military & Veterans Affairs; Community & Regional Affairs; Public Safety-Finance Subcommittee; Judiciary; Transportation & Public Finance Subcommittee; Natural Resources-Finance Subcommittee; Energy

Key Legislation: Legacy well sites; creation of a state food resource development group; opposition to Food & Drug Administration’s findings on genetically-engineered salmon; act relating to performance reviews, audits and termination of Alaska executive and legislative branches, the University of Alaska and the Alaska Court System; revolving bank loan fund; request for United States Congress to adequately fund United States Coast Guard Arctic missions; act making regional Native housing authorities eligible for grants from the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation; law requiring the Department of Natural Resources to deliver a fishing stream access report to the legislature and governor’s office; relocation of the Coastal Villages Region Fund home port; Village Safe Water Act

Representative Charisse Millett (R)

Tribal Affiliation: Inupiaq

House District: 24

Years in Office: 2009-Present

Committees: Co-Chair, Energy; Select Committee on Legislative Ethics; State Affairs; Labor & Workforce Development-Finance Subcommittee; Judiciary; Administration-Finance Subcommittee; Labor & Commerce; Commerce, Community & Economic Development—Finance Subcommittee; Task Force on Sustainable Education

Key Legislation: Vulnerable adult prompt response and notification; Alaska Challenge Youth Academy; police standards; creation of a state food resource development group; commercial use authorization for the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation; legacy well sites; Change of the terms “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded” in Alaska statutes; proclamation of Alaska as a Purple Heart State; opposition to Food & Drug Administration’s findings on genetically-engineered salmon; laws concerning sale and possession of switchblades and gravity knives; encouragement of firearm and firearm accessory manufacture; Alaska Minerals Commission membership; establishment of the Alaska Gasoline Development Corporation; self-defense definitions; establishment of Vietnam Veterans Day; Statewide Suicide Prevention Council; no charge for death certificates of deceased veterans; establishment of Alaska National Guard Day; renewable energy grant fund; authorization of Native housing authorities to receive grants through Alaska Housing Finance Corporation; requirement of Department of Natural Resources to submit report on fishing stream access; urging of U.S. Congress to open coastal plain of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration; opposition to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to create new protected habitat within upper Cook Inlet and Kachemak Bay; prevention, evaluation and liability for concussions in student athletes

Representative Benjamin Nageak (D)

Tribal Affiliation: Inupiaq

House District: 40

Years in Office: 2013

Committees: Co-Chair, Community & Regional Affairs; Education & Early Development—Finance Subcommittee; Health & Social Services; University of Alaska—Finance Subcommittee; Court System—Finance Subcommittee; Energy

Key Legislation: Law regarding abandoned and derelict vessels; legacy well capping; changing of statute language regarding phrases “mental retardation” and “mentally retarded”; opposition to FDA findings on genetically-engineered salmon; establishment of the Alaska Gasoline Development Corporation; allocation of funds to the Special Education Service Agency

 

Washington

Washington State—the home of Chief Seattle and Sherman Alexie—has 30 federally recognized tribes within its borders, making up 1.8 percent of the state’s total population. Out of 97 members of the Washington House of Representatives, two are Native.

Representative John McCoy (D)

Tribal Affiliation: Tulalip

House District: 38, Position 1

Years in Office: 2003-Present

Committees: Chair, Community Development Housing & Tribal Affairs; Vice-Chair, Environment; Education

Recent Key Legislation: Initiative to increase STEM education; authorization of state-tribal compact schools; protection of state’s cultural resources; Yakima River Basin resource management; access of tribal members to state land; music education initiatives; academic credit for military training; visitation rights for grandparents; Small Rechargeable Battery Stewardship Act; modification Native child care costs; hunting regulations for tribal members; recognition of Native American Heritage Day; regulation of sibling visitation for foster children; excuses of work and school absences for reasons of faith or conscience; increasing capacity of school districts to respond to troubled youth; limiting liability for habitat projects; job order contracting procedure for Department of Transportation; insurance coverage of eosinophilia gastrointestinal associated disorders; initiatives in high school to save lives for cardiac arrests; housing trust fund investments; tribal conservation easements; prohibiting liquor self-checkout machines; high school equivalency certificates; powers and duties of gambling commission; contribution limits to school board candidates; law requiring state to retrocede civil jurisdiction over Indians and Indian territory, reservations, county and lands; creation of state Indian Child Welfare Act; enhancement of Pacific Salmon production; creation of Washington Investment Trust; decommissioning of coal-fired power generators; establishing state-tribal relations; enactment of Middle Class Jobs Act; creation of Clean Energy Partnership; air quality protection; regulation of aviation biofuels production; clarification of rights and obligations of domestic partners in regards to parentage; creation of Indian Education division within office of Superintendent of Public Instruction; bullying prevention; oil spill program requirements; traumatic brain surgery strategic partnership.

Representative Jeff Morris (D)

Tribal Affiliation: Tsimshian

House District: 40, Position 2

Years in Office: 1996-Present

Committees: Chair, Technology & Economic Development; Environment; Transportation

Previous Experience: Speaker Pro Tempore and Floor Leader, Washington House of Representatives

Recent Key Legislation: Joint Center for Aerospace Technology Innovation; business and government streamlining projects; early learning opportunities; wireless communication structures; restriction of crab fishery licenses; extending business and occupation tax credits for research and development; assessment of energy storage systems; using marijuana-related revenue to fund agricultural production research; modification of renewable energy cost recovery program; authorization of small consumer installment loans; stewardship of household mercury-containing lights; scrap metal licensing; renewable energy options for electricity company customers; grandparents’ visitation rights; increase of regulatory oversight for the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises; renewable energy jobs; elimination of traffic safety cameras; reduction of littering by retail carryout bags; firearm safety funding; tribes and conservation easements; establishment of energy efficiency improvement loan fund; child abuse investigation and proceedings statutes; decommissioning of coal-fired power generators; establishments of energy efficiency standards for consumer products; establishing government-to-government relationship between state and tribes; privatizing management of state ferry system; limits on fertilizer containing phosphorus; defining of municipal solid waste as a renewable resource; procedure of retrocession of civil and criminal jurisdiction over federally recognized tribes; implementation of Blue Alert System; Higher Education Opportunity Act; restriction of television viewers in motor vehicles; expanding rights of domestic partners in regards to parentage; embalmer regulations; improvement of fishing opportunities in Puget Sound and Lake Washington; creation of Indian Education division within office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.

 

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; epa.gov; Washington Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs; Open States; and Project Vote Smart

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/08/22/power-brokers-iv-northwest-home-most-tribes-less-legislators-150971

County Council votes to seek Reardon’s replacement

Likely nominees are: Sheriff John Lovick of Mill Creek; state Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip; and Everett attorney Todd Nichols

By Noah Haglund and Scott North, The Herald

EVERETT — Weary of waiting for Aaron Reardon to submit paperwork formalizing his plans to resign as Snohomish County executive, the County Council voted 4-0 on Monday to start the process of identifying his replacement.

The council took the step to ensure a timely transition for the next executive to assume office, County Council Chairwoman Stephanie Wright said.

The council hopes to begin interviewing candidates by June 3.

“I think that it’s important that we end the speculation and confusion about the process,” Councilman Dave Somers said.

“We have to do the business of the people of Snohomish County,” added Councilman Brian Sullivan. “We represent over 700,000 constituents.”

Reardon in late February announced plans to step down May 31, promising to assist in a smooth transition for his successor.

Aside from sending out a Feb. 21 press release containing the text of his resignation speech in front of business leaders in Everett, Reardon did not provide any other written notice.

That left other county leaders in limbo. By law the County Council is required to pick Reardon’s replacement. He never answered a May 2 letter from the council asking him to submit a more formal, written resignation.

The motion approved on Monday points to Reardon’s February speech as his notice to the council, noting Wright was in the audience that morning.

The county council “wishes to formally accept the Executive’s (Feb. 21) tendered resignation,” the motion reads.

Reardon’s spokesman, Christopher Schwarzen, said there was “nothing that has prevented the Democratic Party or the County Council from putting together a list of three names as required by law.

“There is nothing in the County Charter or state law that requires a letter of resignation,” Schwarzen wrote. “People want to suggest that this office has held up the process, but that is not true.”

That differs from what Reardon said in March, when asked about the uncertainty surrounding his resignation. “I plan on sending a letter as required,” he wrote in an email to The Herald.

Reardon’s resignation announcement came a day after the County Council voted to strip him of authority to manage the county’s public records and computer system. The council also called for an independent investigation, now being pursued by the King County Sheriff’s Office, into evidence linking two people then on Reardon’s staff to a series of anonymous public records requests, attack websites and other activities targeting people considered the executive’s political rivals.

As The Herald reported Feb. 14, those on the receiving end believed they were being subjected to attempts at harassment and surveillance.

Because Reardon is a Democrat in a partisan elected office, the law says it’s up to Snohomish County Democrats to pick three nominees to replace him. The county party’s central committee will forward the names to the County Council. The council then has 60 days to agree on a successor. If that proves impossible the choice would fall to Gov. Jay Inslee. In the meantime, the county charter says that the deputy executive under Reardon, Gary Haakenson, would assume the responsibilities of the county’s top elected job.

Some in the community had urged Reardon to leave office earlier, giving voters a chance this fall to weigh in on his replacement. With filing already closed for this fall election, that option has passed. That means the person appointed to be the next county executive will serve unchallenged at least into November 2014, when results are certified in a special election expected next year.

An election for a full, four-year term is expected in 2015.

Snohomish County Democratic party leaders have scheduled a formal vote to nominate three candidates for the executive appointment at the Everett Labor Temple on June 1.

“Clearly the council’s motion today expedites our process,” said Richard Wright, the chairman of Snohomish County Democrats and the husband of Stephanie Wright.

The likely nominees are: Sheriff John Lovick of Mill Creek; state Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip; and Everett attorney Todd Nichols, a longtime Democratic Party leader at the state and county level. Lovick is said to have locked up support from a majority of local Democrats.

“While clearly there’s a frontrunner in this group, I think this is a good group of nominees,” Richard Wright said.

County Councilman Dave Gossett was on vacation Monday and did not cast a vote in the Reardon resolution.

McCoy will impart real-world perspectives in MPA program

Lawmaker, a long-time Native-American leader and economic-development/high-technology trailblazer, is named an adjunct professor at The Evergreen State College

Source: Office of State Rep. John McCoy

OLYMPIA — State Rep. John McCoy has already worn more hats in his personal and professional lives than about anyone else you could name. Don’t look now, but he’s about to don yet another impressive piece of headwear.

McCoy has accepted an opportunity to share his real-world knowledge and experience in the upcoming 2013-2014 academic year with students at The Evergreen State College (TESC). The veteran lawmaker, and Tulalip-tribal and Snohomish County community leader will teach as an adjunct professor in Evergreen’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) Tribal Concentration program.

“I am very honored and very grateful for this chance to work with men and women who are obviously very committed to lives of public service,” said McCoy. “I know that I will be learning every bit as much from them as I hope they will be learning from me.”

Lee Lyttle is Evergreen’s MPA Director and a faculty member. He said that TESC “is terrifically privileged to welcome and embrace in our college family a man possessed of Representative McCoy’s background and widespread acquaintance in ‘Indian Country’ issues and management.

“John McCoy’s ‘skill set’ in our 20th century and 21st century life and times is simply unmatched; there’s no other way, really, to put it,” Lyttle emphasized.

“The intersection of his diverse experiences in Indian Country — both in his pursuit of economic and community development and in his working with all levels of the business community and local, state and federal governments — will make Representative McCoy a singular, extraordinary participant in our program.”

McCoy represents the Everett, Marysville, and Tulalip communities and neighborhoods of Snohomish County in the House of Representatives. First elected to the Legislature a little more than 10 years ago, he now chairs the House Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs Committee. He is vice chair of the House Environment Committee, and he also has a seat on the House Education Committee.

McCoy served in the United States Air Force for 20 years, retiring in 1981 with extensive training in computer operations and programming. He worked as a computer technician in the White House from 1982 to 1985. Then he came back home to Tulalip, Snohomish County and the state of Washington. Very soon after returning home McCoy championed the bringing of computers, the Internet, and all that that entails to the Tulalip Tribes.

McCoy and his wife, Jeannie McCoy, make their home in Tulalip. They have three daughters, nine grandchildren, and one great-grandson.

The new professor will be visiting the TESC Tribal cohort on May 24. In the fall he will be teaching Tribal Economics and during the winter session he will be teaching Tribal Policy.

Lyttle said that McCoy’s classes will include as many as 30 MPA students, who themselves will bring a tremendous range of personal and professional knowledge to the academic table. Most but not all students in the program are Native American, and they come from different communities all across the land.

Evergreen’s MPA Tribal Concentration program right now represents the nation’s only such program placing strong emphasis on tribal-governance.

“With that in mind,” says the program website, “the Tribal Governance Concentration focuses on structures, processes and issues specific to tribal governments. It provides current and future tribal leaders with the knowledge and skills needed to work successfully in Indian Country. The Concentration is also appropriate for those working with governmental or other organizations in a liaison role with tribal governments. Students go through the entire program as a cohort and finish in two years in this structured program.”

 

McCoy, Sells, Harper conduct 38th District telephone town hall March 14

OLYMPIA — State representatives John McCoy and Mike Sells will join state Sen. Nick Harper for a 38th Legislative District telephone town hall from 6-7 p.m. on Thursday, March 14. McCoy, Sells and Harper’s constituents in the 38th District will be able to talk live to the delegation about the 2013 legislative session.

Under the telephone town hall format, thousands of constituents will receive automatically generated telephone calls to their homes in the 38th Legislative District at about 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 14. Those constituents are welcome to press *3 (star 3) on their telephone keypads to ask questions for their legislators to answer live, or they can participate just by staying on the line and listening to the live conversation.

Those who do not receive a call but still want to participate can dial toll-free 1-877-229-8493 and enter the PIN code 18646 when prompted. This number will be active during the call only.

Native American Heritage Day

By Monica Brown, Tulalip News Writer

The House Bill 1014 passed Wednesday Feb 20th with a vote of 93-4. The bill was sponsored by Tulalip Tribal member and Representative John McCoy along with 26 other representatives. The bill names the state legal holiday on the Friday immediately following Thanksgiving as “Native American Heritage Day.”

The state currently observes 10 legal holidays, most of which are designated for some commemorative distinction and includes the day immediately following Thanksgiving Day, but has no corresponding name or distinction.

“This is a respectful way to acknowledge Native American heritage. The recognition is consistent with the recognition of long-term contributions of tribes, including tribes located outside of Washington with treaty rights and aboriginal land inside the state. It addresses the stigma associated with Thanksgiving Day,” was stated within the bill.

There are 29 federally recognized tribes in the state and many other tribal communities that are not federally recognized as well as individuals who claim Native American ancestry who may or may not be enrolled members of a tribe.

Native American Heritage Day has been recognized as a state holiday in Maryland since 2008. States California, Tennessee and South Dakota also have an American Indian Day or a Native American Day

In 2008 President George W. Bush signed a joint resolution by Congress designating Friday, November 28, 2008, as Native American Heritage Day, and encouraged federal, state, and local governments to observe the date as tribute to the contributions Native Americans have made to the United States. In 2010 President Barack Obama proclaimed November 2010 as Native American Heritage Month, and called upon all Americans to celebrate November 26, 2010, the day after Thanksgiving, as Native American Heritage Day.

Read more of the back story here.