FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — President Donald Trump has declared November as a time to celebrate both Native American heritage and the country’s founders, a move that upset Native Americans who have historically had the month to themselves to mark their contributions to the nation.
Trump unveiled his National American History and Founders Month proclamation to coincide with a National Native American Heritage Month declaration that every U.S. president has made since 1990.
Native Americans believe the founders proclamation diminishes the importance of the time set aside to honor them. They say their ancestors were oppressed and killed by soldiers and settlers at the time the country was being founded, and that the nation regularly celebrates the founding fathers with holidays such as Presidents’ Day and the Fourth of July.
“I felt like it was undercutting Native American heritage month,” said Joshua Wabindato, whose family is from the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa Indians and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians in Michigan. “This is stifling the indigenous voice.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
The proclamation is part of a push by Jennifer and Jack London, Republican donors who run the National American History and Founders Month Organization in Virginia. Jennifer London said more than 15 states have issued similar proclamations, and she praised Trump for doing the same on the federal level.
She said she chose November because it encompasses the celebration of Native American heritage, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and the traditional school year.
London said donations by the couple were not tied to Trump’s decision to issue the proclamation.