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Holidays

American Heritage! Celebrations in September

By Lance Trebesch September 3, 2013

Celebrating Native American Day and National Hispanic Heritage Month

There’s more to September than back-to-school, your long Labor Day weekend, and the interminable countdown before you can start hanging Halloween decorations. If you’re feeling really all-American, check out (or create) some events and activities centered around Native American Day or National Hispanic Heritage Month.

National Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated between September 15 and October 15. The month honors the contributions Latino and Hispanic Americans have made to the United States and teaches others about Latino and Hispanic cultures and heritage.

The history of the month involves the work of two presidents. The first iteration of the month, Hispanic Heritage Week, was approved by President Lyndon Johnson.  During Ronald Reagan’s presidency, he expanded the holiday to a full month. This expansion was enacted in 1988. The starting point of September 15 has special meaning—the date is the anniversary of independence of Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Honduras. Also, September is the month in which Mexico, Belize, and Chile all celebrate their independence anniversaries.

The United States government has a website devoted to National Hispanic Heritage Month. At the site, you can learn more about the arts, history and cultures celebrated. The government also has a site highlighting many of the national parks and historical sites throughout the country where you can learn more about Hispanic and Latino heritage.

Native American Day

If you’re in California, you’re probably well aware of Native American Day. Native American Day, created in 1968, is state holiday in California.  The holiday was created to honor Native American cultures and their contributions to California and the United States as a whole. The day is observed annually on the fourth Friday in September. This year, that fourth Friday happens to be September 27.

In 1968, the then-governor of California, Ronald Reagan, signed a resolution calling for the holiday, then called American Indian Day. After Native American Day came to be, other states, such as South Dakota and Tennessee, created their own Native American holidays. South Dakota’s Native American Day—a replacement for Columbus Day–became a state holiday between 1989 and 1990 as part of the state’s “Year of Reconciliation” and celebrated the second Monday in October. Tennessee’s American Indian Day became a state holiday in 1994 and is celebrated the fourth Monday in September.

One way California will celebrate this year’s Native American Day is through a free public event at California State University San Bernadino. The event, taking place between 6 pm to 9 pm, will feature music (including traditional bird songs), art, and food.

Will you be celebrating these two holidays?