House Passes Baca Legislation to Establish Native American Heritage Day

Bill Will Designate Friday After Thanksgiving as Day of Tribute

Washington, DC – Late last night, the House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation introduced by Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto), and supported by the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) and 184 federally recognized tribes, to designate the Friday after Thanksgiving as Native American Heritage Day. The Native American Heritage Day Bill, H.J. Res. 62, designates Friday, November 28, 2008, as a day to pay tribute to Native Americans for their many contributions to the United States.

“Native Americans have enriched American culture throughout their proud history,” said Rep. Baca. “It is critical we recognize these contributions and ensure all Americans are properly educated on the heritage and achievements of Native Americans.”

“Since my time in the California State Legislature, I have fought to ensure Native Americans receive the recognition they deserve,” continue Rep. Baca. “After introducing the legislation that established Native American Day in California, I am proud that both the House and Senate have passed my legislation to create a national day of recognition, which now awaits the President’s signature to become law. I Ihank 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.”

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. Last night, the House of Representatives unanimously voted to pass the legislation again, this time including the adjustments from the Senate.

“This bill 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. We must encourage greater awareness of the significant role they have played in America’s history. I urge the President to take quick action and sign this important legislation into law.”

The Native American Heritage Day Bill is strongly supported by NIGA and its 184 federally recognized member tribes throughout the nation. Congressman Baca has been an active member of the Native American Caucus in the House of Representatives since first coming to Congress in 1999.

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