President Signs Baca Bill Creating Native American Heritage Day 2008
Friday After Thanksgiving Will Now Be Designated as Day of Tribute
Earlier this week President Bush signed into law legislation introduced by Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto), to designate the Friday after Thanksgiving as Native American Heritage Day. The Native American Heritage Day Bill, H.J. Res. 62, is supported by the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) and 184 federally recognized tribes, and designates Friday, November 28, 2008, as a day to pay tribute to Native Americans for their many contributions to the United States.
"I am pleased the President took quick action on signing this legislation, which recognizes the importance of Native Americans to our history and culture," said Rep. Baca. "It is critical we honor the contributions of Native Americans and ensure all Americans are properly educated on their heritage and many achievements."
The Native American Heritage Day Bill encourages Americans of all backgrounds to observe Friday, November 28, as Native American Heritage Day, through appropriate ceremonies and activities. It also encourages public elementary and secondary schools to enhance student understanding of Native Americans by providing classroom instruction focusing on their history, achievements, and contributions. As a state Assemblyman, Rep. Baca introduced the legislation that established the fourth Friday of September as Native American Day in California - which became state law in 1998.
H.J. Res. 62 was originally passed by the House of Representatives on November 13, 2007. The bill was passed with technical adjustments by unanimous consent in the U.S. Senate on September 22, 2008. Then, on September 26, 2008, the House of Representatives unanimously voted to pass the legislation again, this time including the adjustments from the Senate. The legislation was signed into public law by the President on October 8, 2008.
"This law will help to preserve the great history and legacy of Native Americans," added Rep. Baca. "Native Americans and their ancestors have played a vital role in the formation of our nation. They have fought with valor and died in every American war dating back to the Revolutionary War, and deserve this special acknowledgement."
"Since my time in the California State Legislature, I have fought to ensure Native Americans receive the recognition they deserve," continued Rep. Baca. "After introducing the legislation that established Native American Day in California, I am proud to have introduced and passed the legislation that creates a national day of recognition. I thank my good friend James Ramos, now Chairman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, for standing with me from the beginning on this long journey to ensure the contributions of Native Americans are recognized and appreciated by all."