November 2, 2021
November is Native American Heritage Month. It is also referred to as American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. A statement from the National Congress of American Indians provides a cultural context for the month: “The month is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. Heritage Month is also an opportune time to educate students and the general public about tribes, to raise a general awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges.”
Montana Swimming is proud of the accomplishments, cultures, and traditions of all our Native American athletes, coaches, and volunteers.
Although the first "American Indian Day" was
celebrated in May 1916 in New York, a month-long recognition of
Native Americans didn’t happen until 1990 when President
George H.W. Bush signed a joint congressional resolution
designating November as National American Indian Heritage Month.
Since then, virtually every U.S. president has signed a similar
proclamation to annually recognize the ancestry, traditions and
contributions of the indigenous people of this country.
According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, there are currently 574 federally recognized tribes within the United States — each with its own culture, language and traditions. Today approximately 6.8 million Americans identify as Native American — approximately 2% of the U.S. population.
USA Swimming and Montana Swimming are proud to take part in honoring the tremendous contributions of Native Americans. Currently, Native Americans/Alaskan Natives make up less than 1% of our membership. A 2017 research study by the USA Swimming Foundation and the University of Memphis however reported 68% of Native Americans/Alaskan Natives in the United States have little to no swimming ability. These numbers represent not only challenges, but also opportunities to increase access to water and learn to swim programs within this community.