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Native American Heritage Timeline 20th – 21st Century

Native American Heritage Month 2018. Leading the way to a healthier future.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recognizes November as Native American Heritage Month. This month offers a perfect opportunity to pay tribute to Native Americans who have made significant contributions to the NIH and our great nation. We encourage you to take the time to learn more about Native Americans History using the timeline below.

1907 - Charles Curtis becomes first Native American Senator in the US and later becomes the 31st Vice President

1912 - Jim Thorpe (Sac and Fox) wins Olympic gold in pentathlon and decathlon

1916 - New York becomes first state to celebrate American Indian Day

1924 - Indian Citizenship Act is passed by Congress, granting citizenship to all Native people born in the US

1929 - - Charles Curtis, whose mother is three-fourths Indian and who grew up on a Kaw reservation, becomes Vice President. Curtis was the first Indian to serve in the House (1893–1907) and the Senate (1906–1929)

Charles Curtis

1934 - Indian Reorganization Act decreases federal control of Indian affairs and re-establishes tribal governance

1944 - National Congress of American Indians is founded

1951 - Robert Rauschenberg has his first one-man show at the Betty Parsons Gallery in New York

1956 - Indian Relocation Act establishes vocational training to encourage Indians to move off reservations

A Native American Wagon Train.

1968 - American Indian Movement, an organization focused on support and advocacy around addressing issues of concern to American Indians, is founded

Three people sit at a table with microphones on it reading a statement from a piece of paper.

1971 - American Indian Movement held a protest in D.C., where they seized the Bureau of Indian Affairs

1972 - American Indian Movement was one of the sponsors of the Trail of Broken Treaties, a cross country protest and presented a 20-point list of demands from the federal government.

1977 - Felipe Rose is discovered and recruited for the Village People

1978 - American Indian Movement led the Longest Walk, a spiritual walk across the country for tribal sovereignty and protest anti-Indian legislation

1986 - Paula Gun Allen published The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions

Paula Gun Allen

1988 - The first Two-Spirit Gathering hosted by the Minneapolis Native American community. Chrystos released Not Vanishing, a book of poetry about the misconceptions and myths surrounding Native people and to illustrate issues of class, gender, and colonialism that have impacted the Native American community.

1990 - - The term Two-Spirit is approved as a more appropriate label to encompass the spectrum of sexual and gender identities within the Native American communities

2000 - U.S. Mint issues a dollar coin with the imagine of Sacagawea

2002 - Jack Bennett Herrington (Chickasaw) becomes the first Indian in space

Jack Bennett Herrington in his spacesuit.

2008 - Coquille Indian Tribe on the southern Oregon coast adopted marriage equality policies, the first tribal nation to do so openly in the US. Recognized as a federal sovereign nation, the tribe is not bound by Oregon’s constitution.

2009 - Federal government agrees to $3.4 billion settlement with Indians who say they were swindled out of royalties overseen by the Department of the Interior since 1887

2009 - President Obama signs Native American Apology Resolution

President Obama signs Native American Apology Resolution

2011 - New York State begins to collect sales tax on tobacco products sold on Indian reservations

2012 - HEARTH Act allows tribal governments to approve leasing of tribal lands

2013 - The Odawa Indian tribe became the third tribal nation to expand marriage equality to LGBT members

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Sources: Bloomberg, CBS, U.S. Department of Defense, Friends Committee on National Legislation,, Legends of America,,, Seale Times,, Time, University of Wisconsin, U.S. Census Bureau,