The United States government has used the month of November to recognize Native American heritage in some form or another for the past 100 years — which is honestly the least the federal government can do, given the mass atrocities they subjected upon Native peoples for centuries — but the Trump Administration appears to be skipping over it this month. Instead, the White House has declared November as “National American History and Founders Month,” which is ostensibly a celebration of the country’s “dedication to promoting liberty and justice.”
The change immediately sparked outrage on social media, particularly because this is actually new for Trump: He celebrated Native American Heritage Month in November 2017 and November 2018. This month has been celebrated nationally since a 1990 proclamation by President George H.W. Bush. But this is the first year that Trump has skipped over writing and posting a proclamation for Native American Heritage Month and the first year he’s written one for National American History and Founders Month. To many critics, it felt tone-deaf at best and outright offensive at worst.
According to the Washington Post, the White House didn’t actually replace Native American Heritage Month with a celebration of the Founding Fathers — many of whom committed or encouraged genocide on the Native tribes — because they issued a proclamation on October 31 noting November’s Native history remembrance. The proclamation does not appear on the White House’s website.
While many Democratic presidential nominees have tweeted about Native American Heritage Month, not one of Trump’s over 150 tweets since November began mentions Native peoples. But is that really a surprise, given the President’s history of routinely disparaging Native peoples? He regularly invokes a slur against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in order to capitalize on past false claims she made about Native heritage, and for which she has since apologized. He has also made jokes about the Wounded Knee Massacre, and refuses to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day in favor of celebrating Christopher Columbus, a man who committed and encouraged the torture and murder of Indigenous peoples.
It seems the messaging within the government may not be clear: The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) tweeted about Native American Heritage Month, saying “This November, the #FBI celebrates National #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth and recognizes the diversity within our ranks and the communities we serve. We specifically celebrate the achievements and contributions of Native Americans to the FBI’s mission and to our country.”