American Indian Citizenship Day is observed on June 2. It was on this day in 1924 that the Indian Citizenship Act by Congress granted citizenship to all American Indians born in the U.S. The day celebrates the history, heritage, and culture of American Indian tribes across the country. All the tribes have their own traditions and beliefs. American Indian Citizenship Day celebrates their contribution to the country’s culture and a reminder of their enduring legacy.
History of American Indian Citizenship Day
Since the drafting of the U.S. Constitution, American Indians were in a unique spot. Article 1 of the Constitution stated that “Indians not taxed” do not fall under the voting population of America.
American Indians were also part of the Dred Scott decision of 1857. The Dred Scott decision was a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that declared that living in free territory did not entitle Dred Scott, an enslaved person, to his freedom. However, in July 1868, the 14th Amendment overturned the Dred Scott decision and made anyone born in the U.S. citizens with equal protection and process under American law. And yet, interpretations of this amendment excluded American Indians from U.S. citizenship.
The 1870 census showed that the estimated population of American Indians was more than the population of five states and 10 territories, yet 92% of the American Indians were not legible citizens. It was the Dawes Act of 1887 that gave conditioned citizenship to American Indians.
Before the Civil War, citizenship was limited to those American Indians who had less Indian blood. During the Reconstruction period, granting of citizenship to American Indian tribes was sought after by the Republicans in Congress. In 1888, American Indian women who married U.S. citizens were given citizenship. The American Indian WWI veterans got their citizenship in 1919.
Finally, it was in 1924 that all American Indians were conferred with U.S. citizenship as a result of the Indian Citizenship Act. During this time, almost 125,000 out of an estimated 300,000 of the American Indian population did not have citizenship.
American Indian Citizenship Day timeline
The Dawes Act
The Dawes Act grants citizenship to only those Native Americans who accept provisional individual land grants.
Care for American Indian Mothers and Babies
The U.S. Office of Indian Affairs introduces its first preventive medicine program, which stresses the health of mothers and babies.
The National Congress of American Indians Established
The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is founded and many American Indian men, as well as women, attend its conference from all over the U.S.
Indian Health Service Established
President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the Indian Health Transfer Act, which establishes the Indian Health Service that focuses on providing public healthcare services to American Indians.
American Indian Citizenship Day FAQs
Do American Indians have to pay taxes?
All American Indians are liable to pay federal income taxes. Tribal governments have the power to charge land reservation taxes. While most tribes have it, some don’t. So, whether to pay the tax on the services and goods purchased on the reservation land or not depends on the tribe.
What benefits do American Indians receive?
All American Indians are eligible, if they meet the eligibility requirements like all other citizens, to receive state services, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Food Stamp Program, and the Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
What is a 5 dollar Indian?
Towards the end of the 19th century, people used to pay $5 apiece to acquire false documents that declared them as American Indians or Native Americans. They did this to receive the benefits that came with having American Indian blood.
When did the American Indians receive citizenship?
American Indians became eligible for U.S. citizenship in 1924.
How can an Indian get American citizenship?
The American Indian citizenship can be acquired through different avenues: Federal Indian policies, marrying a citizen, allotment, or military service.
Is there a national Native American Day?
Native American Day is observed on the second Monday in October, celebrating the diverse culture, history, and heritage of the Native American tribes.
How To Observe American Indian Citizenship Day
Visit art museums
Many museums offer a lot of information on American Indian cultures. Pay a visit and find out more.
Talk to people near you
If there are American Indians in your neighborhood, reach out to them. Talk to them and find out more about their culture.
Read books by American Indian authors. Look up American Indian history. Explore the languages spoken by American Indians.
5 Facts About American Indians That You Didn’t Know
Until 1924, 40% of American Indians weren’t citizens of America although more than 12,000 of them served in the American army in World War I.
National American Indian Heritage Month
President George H.W. Bush declared November as National American Indian Heritage Month in 1990.
The first “Indians”
Christopher Columbus came up with the term ‘Indian’ when he mistook America for the East Indies and called the natives ‘Indians.’
The percentage of American Indians living below the federal poverty line is 28.2%.
A friendly Texas
The name ‘Texas’ refers to a group of American Indian tribes meaning ‘allies’ or ‘friends.’
Why American Indian Citizenship Day is Important
It celebrates the original American inhabitants
American Indian Citizenship Day is a day that honors and celebrates the American Indians, the original inhabitants of America.
It recognizes the American Indian culture
American Indian Citizenship Day honors the lives, traditions, and cultures of the American Indians. It is also what adds to the culture of the country as a whole.
It takes a stand for American Indians
American Indian Citizenship Day supports the American Indians and takes a stand for those who support them. It is a day that uplifts the American Indian community.
American Indian Citizenship Day dates
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