This Fourth of July is Different: A New Gallup Survey Proves It

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American Indians protesting Trump’s 4th of July show at Mount Rushmore on July 3, 2020. Photograph by Wiyaka Foster


As 2020 continues to unfold, this Fourth of July is different.

On this nation’s 244th birthday, the most prevalent reason for the difference may be directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic because it certainly has changed the normalcy of everyday life across the country with many unknowns in the horizon. Many people are taking precautions and staying home to avoid making contact with anyone infected with the deadly virus, thereby avoiding any of their normal Fourth of July festivities.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many local municipalities cancelled fireworks displays. This year because of severe conditions on the Navajo Indian Reservation, all fireworks have been banned.

Each year near Independence Day, the research firm Gallup releases findings on its measurement of American pride among U.S. citizens. This year the findings met a new low ebb. The findings come as the country faces the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis produced by businesses forced and voluntarily closing due to the pandemic. Additionally, the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis by the hands of police has brought civil unrest to American streets.

Gallup says although a majority of adults in the United States still say they are “extremely proud” (42 percent) or “very proud” (21 percent) to be American, both results are the lowest they have been since Gallup’s initial measurement in 2001.

Gallup’s data are from a May 28-June 4 poll, which disclosed only 20 percent of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the country.

The breakdown of Gallup’s measurement of this attitude about being American between genders and races (which is limited to white and non-white respondents) is interesting:

  •   34 percent of women selected “extremely proud,” a drop from 43 percent in 2019.
  •   50 percent of men responded they were “extremely proud,” up two percentage points from last year.
  •   24 percent of non-white people are extremely proud to be American, compared with 36 percent in 2019.
  •   49 percent of white respondents picked extremely proud, a one percent drop from 2019.

It can be noted that this year was the first year that whites’ pride in being American fell below 50 percent.

The 24 percent on non-white people who are “extremely proud” versus the 49 percent of white Americans who are is an interesting comparison and speaks to the worldview disparity in a country that was in many ways shaped in racism.

The differing worldviews speak to attitudes and perceptions. “Perception is reality” goes the old adage. Sadly, the perceptions of reality differ significantly among races in America. The Gallup findings reveal that non-whites are not feeling the American dream much on this Fourth of July as they attempt to continue to deal with systems that seemingly work against them, whether in the justice system, educational system and even economic system.

The racial disparity speaks to a great divide that exists in America in 2020.

The killing of George Floyd on Memorial Day produced protests, and some cases riots, in American cities. Floyd’s killing was a tipping point for non-white Americans that showed the deep anger and resentment that has existed across America as the result of years of police brutality against them.

Levi Rickert

Floyd’s death appears to have given momentum for the Black Lives Matter movement that emerged after Michael Brown, a black man, was killed in Ferguson, Missouri by a police officer in 2014. Many Standing Rock water protectors remember the support members of the Black Lives Matters movement gave to them in the Dakota Access pipeline resistance in 2016.

The momentum generated through the Black Lives Matters as the result of Floyd’s killing has produced toppling of racially offensive statues, including those of Christopher Columbus in several cities.

The momentum has also transitioned into the decades-old discussion about the Washington National Football League (NFL) changing the team’s name in the nation’s capital. On yesterday, facing intense pressure from some big-name sponsors, the Washington NFL franchise’s owner Dan Snyder announced the team is reviewing the name.

“This moment has been 87 years in the making, and we have reached this moment thanks to decades of tireless efforts by tribal leaders, advocates, citizens, and partners to educate America about the origins and meaning of the R-word,” National Congress of American Indians President Fawn Sharp said in reaction to the shift by Snyder. “The time to change is now.”

This momentum, if handled properly, can produce positive transformation in America that can be long lasting and close the attitudinal gaps that were so apparent in the Gallup report.

Levi Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the publisher and editor of Native News Online. He may be reached at

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Navajo Nation Under Lockdown during 4th of July Weekend

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Window Rock, Ariz., the capital city of the Navajo Nation, is under of reservation-wide 57-hour curfew designed to keep people home to stop the spread of the novel conronavirus. Courtesy photograph.

Published July 4, 2020

5,527 recoveries, 64 new cases, and four more deaths reported as 57-hour weekend lockdown set to take effect

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — On Friday, the Navajo Department of Health, in coordination with the Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, reported 64 new COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation and two more deaths. The total number of deaths has reached 375.

Reports from all 12 health care facilities on and near the Navajo Nation indicate that approximately 5,527 individuals have recovered from COVID-19. 58,145 people have been tested for COVID-19. The total number of COVID-19 positive cases for the Navajo Nation is 7,733.

Navajo Nation COVID-19 positive cases by Service Unit:

  • Chinle Service Unit: 1,973
  • Crownpoint Service Unit: 664
  • Ft. Defiance Service Unit: 487
  • Gallup Service Unit: 1,288
  • Kayenta Service Unit: 1,094
  • Shiprock Service Unit: 1,247
  • Tuba City Service Unit: 673
  • Winslow Service Unit: 303

* Four residences with COVID-19 positive cases are not specific enough to place them accurately in a Service Unit.

The Navajo Police Department and the New Mexico National Guard will enforce the 57-hour weekend lockdown, which begins on Friday, July 3 at 8:00 p.m. until Monday, July 6 at 5:00 a.m. This will be the first of three weekend lockdowns to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 on the Navajo Nation.

“Our numbers would be much higher without the weekend lockdowns and without the mask requirement — we have the data to support it. We are following the advice of our Nation’s health care experts and it has led to the flattening of the curve. Please be safe, make smart decisions for yourselves and your families, and stay home this holiday weekend. As the First Americans, let us remember our military men and women, police officers, fire fighters, nurses, EMT’s, and many others in prayer as we celebrate our freedom,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez.

The Nez-Lizer Administration reminds the public that there is a stage 2 fire restriction in place that prohibits the use of fireworks, open fires, and trash burning to prevent more wildfires. On Friday, the Southwest Area Incident Management Team 5 reported that the Wood Springs 2 Fire has grown to 11,857 acres and is now 17-percent contained.


To Donate to the Navajo Nation

The official webpage for donations to the Navajo Nation, which has further details on how to support  the Nation’s Dikos Ntsaaígíí-19 (COVID-19) efforts is:


For More Information

For more information including reports, helpful prevention tips, and more resources, please visit the Navajo Department of Health’s COVID-19 website at To contact the main Navajo Health Command Operations Center, please call (928) 871-7014.

For up to date information on impact the coronavirus pandemic is having in the United States and around the world go to:

For up-to-date information about COVID-19, Native News Online encourages you to go to Indian Health Service’s COVID-19 webpage and review CDC’s COVID-19


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The Dilemma of the Fourth of July

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"Not Your Savage" Mark Charles

“Not Your Savage” Mark Charles

Published July 4, 2019


Editor’s Note: This commentary was published in observance of the Fourth of July holiday in 2015. Native News Online is republishing it again this year. 

The other day I was eating dinner with my wife in a restaurant located in Gallup New Mexico, a border town to the Navajo reservation. Gallup was recently named “Most Patriotic Small Town” in a nationwide contest. Soon after sitting down I noticed that we were seated at a table directly facing a framed poster of the Declaration of Independence.

The irony almost made me laugh.

When our server, who was also native, came to the table, I asked if I could show him something. I then stood up and pointed out that 30 lines below the famous quote “All men are created equal” the Declaration of Independence refers to Natives as “merciless Indian savages.”

The irony was that the restaurant was filled with Native American customers and employees. And there in plain sight, a poster hanging on the wall was literally calling all of us “savages.”

The server was concerned that I might be upset so after our dinner the manager of the restaurant came to our table and asked if everything was OK. I showed her the quote and assured her that I was not trying to cause problems. After more than a decade of living on the Navajo Nation, I have become used to such offenses when I travel outside of our reservation. After the manager left, I noticed that another Native couple seated near us had taken interest in our conversation. So I invited them over and showed them the same offensive line hanging over our table. They were astounded that throughout their entire education they were never told the Declaration referred to Natives in such a way.

If the poster had labeled any other group of people as “savage,” or if the source of the words was anything else besides one of our country’s founding documents, the restaurant in question would have long ago been sued and the parties responsible for hanging the poster most likely disciplined. But because the targeted group was Natives, the source was the Declaration of Independence and the responsibility for hanging the poster belonged to the restaurant’s national corporate offices; not only is the poster still hanging today, but on July 4th the entire nation will celebrate the message of this poster and the signing of this Declaration. For we have declared it a national holiday complete with fireworks, parades and speeches.

This is the dilemma that Native ‘Americans’ face every day. The foundations of the United States of America are blatantly unjust. This land was stolen. Native peoples, Africans and many other minority communities have long been recipients of systemic racism. And the roots of it are right there for the entire world to see, printed in many of our founding documents; like the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and United States Supreme Court case rulings.

We announce it. We flaunt it. We celebrate it.

As a nation we embrace this history because we are largely ignorant of the true nature of our past and have never been held accountable for our actions. As Americans we celebrate our foundations of ‘discovery’ and cling to our narrative of ‘exceptionalism’ because we have been taught that this nation was founded by God on a principle of freedom for all.

But the reality is that the United States of America exists because this land was colonized by Europeans who used a Doctrine of Discovery to dehumanize, steal from, enslave and even commit cultural genocide against indigenous peoples from both the “New World” and Africa.

Georges Erasmus, an Aboriginal leader from Canada, said, “Where common memory is lacking, where people do not share in the same past, there can be no real community. Where community is to be formed, common memory must be created.”

Declaration of Independence_merciless Indian SavagesThose are wise words that get to the heart of our national problem regarding race. On days like Columbus Day, Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July, the United States of America celebrates its history. But a majority of our citizens celebrate in ignorance. After traveling throughout the country and educating audiences on the Doctrine of Discovery and its influence on our nation, I would estimate that less than 3% of Americans know this history or understand its impact on the current-day situation of Native peoples.

As a nation, the United States of America does not share a common memory, and therefore struggles to have true community.

So this Fourth of July I invite every American to start their day by learning about the Doctrine of Discovery. Allowing the reality of the dehumanizing nature of this doctrine to temper your celebrations.

You can still light your fireworks and eat your BBQ as you celebrate a hard fought victory over the British. But at the end of the day, I humbly ask you to conclude your celebrations with the following prayer.

“May God have mercy on the United States of America and give us the courage necessary to create a common memory.

Mark Charles (Dine’) is a candidate for the President of the United States.

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Do American Indians Celebrate the 4th of July?

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Members of the Kiowa Gourd Clan Ceremony stand as the flag of Spencer “Corky” Sahmaunt is raised. Carnegie, Oklahoma; July 4, 2019. Mr. Sahmaunt served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War and was a member of the Kiowa Black Leggings Warrior Society, as well as the Kiowa Gourd Clan.The Kiowa Flag Song, analogous to the Star Spangled Banner, accompanied the flag-raising. (Photo courtesy of Mari Frances Sahmaunt, used with permission)

Independence Day 2020

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in the Smithsonian Magazine. Used with permission. All rights reserved.


Every few years, the museum updates this story to add more Native voices. The story first appeared on July 3, 2013.

How do Native Americans observe the 4th of July? This year, many people’s plans reflect their concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. But the answer has always been as complicated as America’s history.

Perhaps the most quoted language in the Declaration of Independence is the statement that all men are created equal. Many Native Americans, however, also remember the signers’ final grievance against the king:

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

With the emergence of a nation interested in expanding its territory came the issue of what to do with American Indians, who were already living all across the land. As the American non-Indian population increased, the Indigenous population greatly decreased, along with tribal homelands and cultural freedoms. From the beginning, U.S. government policy contributed to the loss of culture and land.

Keeping our focus on the 4th of July, let’s jump ahead to the 1880s, when the U.S. government developed what has come to be called the Religious Crimes Code—regulations at the heart of the federal Office of Indian Affairs’ Code of Indian Offenses that prohibited American Indian ceremonial life. Enforced on reservations, the code banned Indian dances and feasts, disrupted religious practices, and destroyed or confiscated sacred objects, under threat of imprisonment and the withholding of treaty rations. The Secretary of the Interior issued the regulations in 1884, 1894, and 1904, and Indian superintendents and agents implemented them until the mid-1930s. For 50 years, Indian spiritual ceremonies were held in secret or ceased to exist.

In response to this policy of cultural and religious suppression, some tribes saw in the 4th of July and the commemoration of American independence a chance to continue their own important ceremonies. Indian superintendents and agents justified allowing reservations to conduct ceremonies on the 4th as a way for Indians to learn patriotism to the United States and to celebrate the country’s ideals.

That history is why a disproportionate number of American Indian tribal gatherings take place on or near the 4th of July and are often the social highlights of the year. Over time these cultural ceremonies became tribal homecomings. American Indian veterans in particular were welcomed home as modern-day followers of warrior traditions. The Navajo Tribe of Arizona and Pawnee of Oklahoma are two examples of tribes that use the 4th of July to honor their tribal veterans. Tribal veterans’ songs and flag songs are sung. Before the Reservation Era, when most Indians saw the American flag coming toward their villages and camps, it symbolized conflict, death, and destruction. But more than 12,000 American Indians served during World War I, and after the war, the American flag began to be given a prominent position at American Indian gatherings, especially those held on the 4th of July. This symbol of patriotism and national unity is carried into powwow and rodeo arenas today.

Everything is different this year, with families following public health guidance to reduce the transmission of Covid-19. But traditionally, the Lumbee of North Carolina and Mattaponi of Virginia use the 4th of July as a time for tribal members to renew cultural and family ties. The Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma holds Gourd Clan ceremonies, because the holiday coincides with their Sun Dance, which once took place during the hottest part of the year. The Lakota of South Dakota and Cheyenne of Oklahoma have some of their annual Sun Dances on the weekends closest to the 4th of July to coincide with the celebration of their New Year.

Another summer soon, tribes will resume holding ceremonies, as well as powwows, rodeos, homecomings, and other modern get-togethers, around Independence Day. And Native American families will set out on visits back to their reservations and home communities.

This year, my father and I will go to our fishing spot at a lake near our house. We’ll talk to family in Oklahoma, where my older daughter is about to begin studying toward her childhood dream of becoming a nurse. I have so much pride and hope for both my daughters. And I’ll think about our grandmothers’ and grandfathers’ perseverance and sense of community, which saw them through so much so that we could be here.

How will other Native Americans across the country spend the day this year? As before, the museum asked Native friends on Facebook to share their thoughts. Here are some of their answers:

Webster, Massachusetts: Independence Day carries many significant meanings to my family, but nothing most would think. During the time when Natives could be arrested or worse for practicing ceremonies and dances, the 4th of July was an opportunity do those things. Many Indigenous people were able to practice certain ceremonies under the guise of celebrating Independence Day.

Like many Native people, especially on the East Coast, I have three ancestors, and likely more, who fought in the Revolutionary War. Without the support of Indigenous people, America would have never come to be. . . . Independence Day is a bittersweet reminder of our sacrifice and loss, but also the bravery and tenacity that gave our ancestors the impetus to find a way to keep our culture alive.

Fort Hall, Idaho: We celebrate our Treaty Day on July 3. There will be smudging and prayer for our people at our arbor, with social distance at the arbor and online viewing for people at home.

Fort Cobb, Oklahoma: Normally, this would be a time of renewal and rejuvenation for our Kiowa people, celebrating in unity. At heart, this year is no exception: I’ll be with my family, praying for continued healing and a prosperous year for our Cáuigù (Kiowa) and Native peoples.

Carnegie, Oklahoma: We are usually in camp by now, but this year we have canceled our celebration. We have many in mourning, and Covid has everyone on lockdown, so I really don’t have any plans. Just staying home and safe! We’ll be taking time to be thankful for our blessings, and looking forward to the time that we can celebrate and dance together again. In the meantime, we’ll be beading and creating.

Arlee, Montana: Well, considering we won’t be at a powwow this year, me and my family will be floating the Blackfoot River that day and then getting together for some dinner afterwards. We are all purchasing fireworks this year—we all love fireworks—and just chilling and visiting with one another and enjoying family.

You can enjoy family, or the day, without making it about their independence. That’s what we do with powwows, some of the longest-running in Indian Country. Plus, it’s one of those times that family and friends have off together from work, and in our busy lives we don’t get a lot of opportunity to spend time with family and friends. I am from Montana—we are in Phase 2 of reopening and will be following all guidance that pertains to that. Be safe and enjoy the day off.

Alexandria, Virginia: My Lumbee Tribe cancelled our annual Lumbee Homecoming, which is always scheduled for the week of July 4. All my Virginia relatives usually attend. This year? My Native family will be gathering at my sister’s home for a barbeque. There will be drumming, and we’ll try to get some dancing going on. I like to bring old pictures of our Native ancestors to share with my nieces and nephews. They enjoy hearing how their 85-year-old-Tuscarora grandmother grew up attending a longhouse for ceremonies, and how her family received federal recognition in 1936, were terminated in 1970, and gained federal recognition again in 1973.

Mesa, Arizona: Stay home and be safe with my family. And make red chile posole with fry bread—yummy.

Tahlequah, Oklahoma: I will be celebrating our new year during our Greencorn Ceremony at Echota gatiyo [stomp or ceremonial grounds]. It’s a time of renewal and new beginnings. I personally do not observe Independence Day.

Dallas, Texas: I will be spending the day at home to be safe. I live in the Dallas rural area, and Covid-19 is still rising here. Now, being First Nations people, I have never celebrated the 4th. It is a reminder of what has happened to our people. White history portrays this land as nothing till they discovered it. I could go on, but don’t want to start the day off being irritated. I’m Chiricahua Apache.

White Swan, Washington: Light our fireworks at home instead of in streets and instead of going to other events, which have been canceled.

Apache Junction, Arizona: We have 13 wildfires right now in Arizona, some human-caused, the rest by lightning. It’s not a good idea for people to do fireworks here. We never do anyway.

Tomah, Wisconsin: I’m staying home. I’ve seen enough fireworks in the past. A nice quiet time at home, enjoying the evening in Ho-Chunk Cranberry Country in Wisconsin.

Cumberland, Virginia: I’m staying home. I don’t care for explosions, no matter how small. I always ask that people be mindful of the veterans who are nearby when setting off fireworks.

Duncannon, Pennsylvania: We’ll be at home. Our daughter . . . is extremely high risk. Both my husband and I work in public health. . . . The best thing we can all do right now is protect one another through good hygiene, social distancing, and wearing a mask.

Herod, Illinois: Generally, we observe none of the Colonial holidays, but I love fireworks. I won’t be in any crowds. Relatives may bring a bucket of fish to my door, I hope.

Albuquerque, New Mexico: Staying home. No firework displays considering Covid-19 and the fire restrictions due to extreme dry conditions.

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia: I will be staying home. Because of cancer treatment, I am high risk, and most of the public fireworks displays have been cancelled anyway, due to Covid. I am sure I will still see and hear fireworks, because they have had a lot of stands selling fireworks around here.

Simpsonville, South Carolina: Grilling in the backyard and watching Will Smith Independence Day. (Greenville, South Carolina, is a Covid hotspot!)

Durango, Colorado: Home away from large groups with me, myself, and I plus two doggies, 45 minutes from the hotspot in Farmington, New Mexico.

Orlando, Florida: I’m not celebrating, nor have I ever. This day meant nothing to my ancestors and therefore means nothing to me.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: I like to start the 4th like I do every year. I call friends and family, make sure everyone is doing fine. . . . [Later] I will paint, because Santa Fe Indian Market is still happening even though it’s on line I still need to finish up a painting and start another one. Once the sun goes down, I’ll jump into the car with my girlfriend and go watch fireworks somewhere. Did I mention I love being in Oklahoma City? Fireworks will be everywhere!

Sicangu Lakota beaded vest (front), ca 1890. South Dakota. National Museum of the American Indian (20/1208). (National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian)

These are answers we highlighted in earlier years:

Kansas City, Missouri: Some important tribes helped both the colonies and the British fight the Revolutionary War, and others gave aid. And some tribes continued fighting for the United States after the country was established, right through the Civil War. So it does not bother me to celebrate the 4th of July. . . . The government formed by that 1776 revolution, even though it nearly exterminated us, still rules this land today, and has changed enough now to give those of us left a chance for survival. We are all changed, but Indians have always supported the U.S. government in one way or another.

Anadarko, Oklahoma: On July 4, 1967, I was in Vietnam, a short-timer waiting to come home. I didn’t celebrate Independence Day, because the meaning is different for most Native Americans. I just wanted to be in Oklahoma. That time of the year is like a homecoming for Kiowa people around Carnegie. Or like the Summer Solstice—the beginning of a new year, a renewal of traditions, friendships, and a happy time. No matter where I was stationed or lived, I tried to be in Carnegie at the Annual Kiowa Gourd Clan Dance. One of those times I was at a Sun Dance on the last day. It was Sunday, July 4. Everything was over, and the last meal had been consumed. The sun had just set to the west, and the whole camp was at rest, when a fireworks display erupted to the east and we were treated to a spectacular show of beauty and color to end a great year. My roots are deeply embedded in home, family, and traditions.

Hogansburg, New York: It doesn’t make sense to celebrate one group of foreigners’ independence from another at the expense of our own people and land. When we Mohawks and others fought in the U.S. War of Independence, it was for our own survival, and even that was controversial at the time.

Fort Hall, Idaho: I force my way into the office—break in to work and not celebrate! I’m kidding. Since it’s a federal holiday and we have it off, we use the day off to practice our off-reservation hunting and fishing rights and go salmon spearing. Or we go to a powwow.

Mt. Rainier, Maryland: As a veteran, I take the family to celebrate the freedom we have, but also teach what the costs were and still are to Native people.

Bartlesville, Oklahoma: We don’t celebrate the 4th. Native people did not become free from anything on that day. We do, however, attend my wife’s tribes’ dance. We look forward to the Quapaw Powwow each year as a family time, an opportunity to sing and dance and practice our social traditions.

Wilmington, Delaware: My family acknowledges the sacrifices the military has made for this country, even though the country has been built on unsavory deeds. We are going to the Veterans Hospital to talk about local Native culture with the vets who live there. I’ll also include some information about Native people in the military.

Chicago, Illinois: No, I never celebrated. I just liked watching the fireworks when my crew were kids. It used to be while I was working at the American Indian Center, we were always asked to walk in parades and do dance performances.

Caribou, Maine: Cookouts and family mostly. . . . As far as independence, fireworks are legal here, but you’re not allowed to set them off after 10 p.m. on July 4th.

South Padre Island, Texas: I do, but in another way. I celebrate by honoring the war chiefs in my tribes for getting us through such troubled times. . . . Independence still lives with us and in us.

Sitka, Alaska: As far as the 4th of July, my Tlingit dance group has a fry bread booth. We sell it as a fundraiser to make it to the biennial event known as Celebration, which is held in Juneau. Usually around 40 dance groups attend, predominantly Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian, which are the three tribes most prevalent in Southeast Alaska. There are also sometimes guest dance groups from other parts of Alaska or even the world. Our town celebrates with booths, sometimes an organized collection of them and sometimes a hodgepodge around town; fireworks on the night of the 3rd, which the fuel company sponsors; and a parade on the 4th.

Pueblo, Colorado: My village celebrates July 7th. That’s our traditional chief’s wedding anniversary.

Lawrence, Kansas: I personally do not celebrate the history of the 4th of July. My celebration is to honor all the Native men and women who have served and are serving this nation. . . . They were and still are defending the only homelands our people have ever known. We cannot run back to any other country or lands, because this is our country and our lands. Mvto for allowing me to share a little of my thought on the 4th of July! Pah-bee [brother], until the words of the Declaration of Independence are changed, I’m still a merciless Indian Savage. And I can live with that, because that’s what my people before were called!

Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Having family in the military and now our son, it has always been about the sacrifices made. We clean the graves, plant or put up new flowers, and pray.

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin: The Ho-Chunk Nation recognizes July 4th as Cpl. Mitchell RedCloud Jr. Day. Cpl. RedCloud was killed in action while serving in the Army during the Korean War. He posthumously received the Medal of Honor for “dauntless courage and gallant self-sacrifice” in battle near Chonghyon, North Korea, on 5 November 1950.

Omak, Washington: The Nespelem celebration was originally a defiant ruse by Chief Joseph. He had returned from Oklahoma, where he saw the first powwows. The Army banned any tribal meetings and gatherings at Colville. So the people came up with the idea of fooling the United States into thinking we were celebrating America’s holiday. It worked. Indians came. It’s been held ever since. Now it’s the week after the 4th of July, so we don’t have to compete with all the casino-sponsored powwows.

Winterhaven, California: I don’t celebrate the 4th of July. It’s another day. I will be working. All tribal employees work that day.

Sicangu Lakota beaded vest (back), ca 1890. South Dakota. National Museum of the American Indian (20/1208). At the top, the maker has beaded the name of the Sicangu Lakota leader Two Strike or Nomkahpa (1831–1915).

Norman, Oklahoma: Independence Day has a different meaning for us as Native people. We exercise our freedom carrying on the traditions of our people in whatever that form that may be. For me, it is in Carnegie, Oklahoma, in Kiowa country, at the Kiowa Tia-Piah (Gourd Clan) Society Celebration.

Tulsa, Oklahoma: I am headed to Quapaw Powwow, arguably the longest running annual powwow—145 years. Our family and tribal nation have always played host to friends and visitors from all over the world.

Laguna, New Mexico: As much turmoil the United States government has given our people in the past and present, my father has instilled in my family a sense of loyalty, liberty, and responsibility for our country. He is a Vietnam Veteran and could easily have forsaken this country due to the treatment he and other Vietnam veterans received upon their return. Instead, he chose to defend the country and the land of Indigenous Americans. He then raised his children and grandchildren to respect the country. So we will spend the day probably watching a parade in the morning and then have a BBQ with friends and family. We will honor and remember the veterans on this day.

Akwesasne Mohawk territory, Haudenosaunee territory: We don’t celebrate the independence of our colonizer, especially considering that George Washington ordered the Sullivan–Clinton Campaign of burnings, displacement, and murder against the Haudenosaunee villages during their war for Independence. This while so many of our people were helping the Americans at Valley Forge, while decisive battles were won due to Iroquois allies.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin: We have a powwow in Oneida every 4th of July, because we fought with George Washington and the colonists to help them win their independence.

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: In Canada First Nations people are faced with that dilemma this year more so than ever, because the federal government is promoting their 150th anniversary and reconciliation at the same time.

Tomah, Wisconsin: The 4th of July—my Ho-Chunk Nation made the day known as Cpl. Mitchell Redcloud Jr. Day, with a powwow at the Andrew Blackhawk Memorial Pow-Wow Grounds. My choka (grandfather) was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, killed in action during the Korean War. Mitchell Jr., was my maternal choka’s first cousin and was also a choka to me, Ho-Chunk relationship. I will volunteer on the 4th, if my relatives, the Redcloud family, need my assistance.

Arizona and the Diné (Navajo) Nation: Greet and end the day by thanking Creator for another blessed day. We don’t celebrate but use the day for family activities.

Pawnee, Oklahoma: I celebrate my two grandmothers who were born on the 4th of July. My mother’s mother, Lillie Carson (Otoe), and my dad’s grandmother, Sally Kaulaity (Kiowa). They were both good grandmothers. I miss them.

Santa Fe, New Mexico: We chose to get married on the 4th of July. Having our anniversary on that day makes the day about love and the continuity of my Cherokee family and the families of all the cultures we’ve married with over the generations. It adds nuance to a day that could just be about patriotism and blowing things up. Plus we always have the day off and get to spend the day with family and friends who believe in the importance of journeying together in peace and equality. And yes, we get fireworks, too.

Waldorf, Maryland: Yes. We have our homecoming then. It never feels like a 4th of July celebration even though it is. It feels more like what we call it, Lumbee Homecoming. We have thousands of people packed in one little town for nine days celebrating our people, our food and culture, their talent, or their coming back home to visit relatives, spending time together, and making new memories, and of course enjoying eating grape ice cream.

Shawnee, Oklahoma: The flag of the United States is not exclusively the flag of the immigrants who came here and created a government, it is also the flag that our own warriors defended many times in the last century and currently today. Yes, it was once flown by our enemy, but it now represents those warriors who fought under it and all those who work toward fulfillment of tribal sovereignty and treaty rights and an inclusive country where immigrants and indigenous people live together equally protected under the Constitution. It is a symbol of the treaty agreements that we as indigenous people still have our inherent rights. Okay, that’s not a celebration but that’s what I think when I celebrate.

Oklahoma City: Do as our people always have: Help feed and care for those who need it!

Carnegie, Oklahoma: We celebrate every 4th Gourd Dancing, camping, and visiting my Kiowa people while we’re here, listening to the beautiful Kiowa songs. For three days we are just in Kiowa heaven. Been doing this for years. Now my parents have gone on, but we will continue to attend the Kiowa Gourd Dance Celebration.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Do American Indians celebrate the 4th of July? Yes, it represents freedom in the United States of America. Freedom to continue to worship Creator, freedom to dance my prayers, freedom to sweat, freedom to rise early and pray the day in and be up late to pray the day out. We, the Host People, celebrate the 4th of July every day!

Prewitt, New Mexico, and the Navajo Nation: No, I do not celebrate. Because I as a Diné will never relinquish my belief or understanding that we as a people and a nation have the right to be loyal to the Holy Ones before all others, including the United States. We as a people existed long before there ever was a United States.

Taos, New Mexico: Taos is a very close-knit community, and even more so at Taos Pueblo nearby. Both have had many citizens serve in America’s military in the heartfelt belief that they are protecting our nation. One of our honored tribal elders is Tony Reyna, 97, who survived the Bataan Death March during World War II. I have been told many times that, for us, the idea of protection goes deeper than for most Americans. This land is where our people emerged, and any threat to it is met from a place of deep, deep meaning. People here celebrate Independence Day pretty much as they do everywhere. It’s a day off, and there are parades and fireworks displays. But for many we remember World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, and the sacrifices our people made. I wish all people could remember that.

Parshall, North Dakota, and the Three Affiliated Tribes: The 4th is the celebration of independence, which Native people have practiced as sovereign nations for generations.

Shawnee, Oklahoma: No, I do not celebrate Independence Day, simply because the Declaration of Independence labels my people “our enemies, the merciless savages of our frontiers.” You notice the colonists were already calling the frontiers “ours” when the land was not theirs. Because I do not celebrate Independence Day does not mean I am not proud of our Native American veterans and soldiers. I am very proud of them and of the fact almost all Native American families have a family member who is a veteran or an active member in the Armed Forces.

Anadarko, Oklahoma: I am Kiowa/Delaware/Absentee Shawnee. My mom is a Kiowa/Comanche. My uncle is a vet, as many of my other relatives are, as well as my stepdad (Comanche/Caddo). My Delaware grandma always said, “This is not our holiday. Out of respect we will honor their day, because our people helped them.” She said, “I will mourn on this day.” She would wear a black dress that day.

Laguna, New Mexico, and the Pueblos of Acoma and Laguna: I celebrate the 4th of July and I do so proudly. . . . When you have been lucky enough to travel and see life in other places, you come to appreciate the home and land you live on. Maybe I’m not as bitter as some of my other Indigenous brothers and sisters because my tribes were not relocated and have been lucky to remain on ancestral lands. Our Pueblo people . . . fought against the Spanish in the Pueblo Revolt, but also learned to harmonize with the Catholic Church. Many years—even centuries—of healing have taken place to get us to this point. And I think by celebrating the 4th of July, I feel I am honoring that healing my Pueblo ancestors have prayed for. . . .

Sawmill, Arizona, and the Navajo Nation: I recognize Independence Day as a day off, as time with family. I recognize that the United States declared its independence on that day, but Native people weren’t a part of their envisioned emancipation. As Native people, we recognized our independence through our prayers and practicing our traditions. We didn’t need a special day to mark our freedom, we just were. So on the 4th of July, I will practice my American heritage and celebrate this country’s Independence Day. But my heart knows I don’t need a day to recognize my autonomy.

Oklahoma City and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma: I think of the 4th of July as American Ideals Day. If only America would live up to its own stated ideals, none of what happened to American Indian people would have happened. Today, if those ideals were finally acted upon, American Indian sovereignty would be fully recognized and the treaties would be kept intact. The fireworks celebrate the great ideals that could be America, if only greed were not allowed to pervert them.

Norman, Oklahoma: My 13-year-old son (Comanche/Cherokee) is currently reading the U.S. Constitution (just because). When I asked him about the 4th the other day, he kind of shook his head and said that most people just don’t get it. Reading the comment above on American Ideals Day made me think of how true it is—how little we know about America’s ideals of the past and where we hold them now.

Wichita, Kansas: My people, Kiowas, have always held this time of the year as a gathering of all our bands. They would celebrate for a week, indulging in each society’s dances, renewing friendships, visiting relatives, and so on. As we progressed into this modern society we are a part of, we recognized the importance of this celebration even more so. To honor our freedoms and the men and women who sacrificed for us today is truly a reason to celebrate the 4th of July. Does it mean we are to forget our struggles and the plight of our people? NO, but it commemorates the beauty of our land and the resolve of this nation we call America.

Pawnee, Oklahoma: [It’s a day] to celebrate all our Native men and women who served in the Armed Forces of the United States of America, our Native men [the Codetalkers] without whose tribal language [World War II] might have been lost. To honor our fallen ones, who sacrified their lives for us, and the veterans who are buried in our tribal cemeteries . . . and overseas. To honor my daughter . . . in the U.S. Army, a proud Native American woman who is serving our country.

Waikoloa, Hawai’i, via the Red Cloud Indian School, Pine Ridge, South Dakota: It is a sad time, . . . thinking of all the treaties never honored. I try to hold my children and grandcubs near and invite others who are alone or ill or elderly to eat lots of food that I cook until I am very tired and thank the Creator for another wonderful day.

To read more about Independence Day 2020, see A Curator’s Fourth of July Message on the Long, Shared Work of Creating a Better America, also on Smithsonian Voices.


The post Do American Indians Celebrate the 4th of July? appeared first on Native News Online.

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National Congress of American Indians & Rainbow PUSH Coalition to Hold Town Hall on July 4th

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Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. Native News Online photograph by Levi Rickert

Published July 4, 2020
WASHINGTON — In a unique program, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr. and Rainbow PUSH Coalition will come together in a special town hall titled “The Untold Story of America” on Saturday, July 4, 2020 from 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. – EDT.
The town hall that can be viewed on several livestreams listed below will feature three tribal leaders along with Jackson.
This unique program will allow for a discussion on the true history of the nation from the American Indian and African American perspectives.
This event will discuss what restorative justice looks like collectively for communities of color, and within our respective communities. Panelists will discuss the pressing issues facing their communities and put forth policy solutions to address these issues. This event will also feature members of Congress, who will provide their feedback on what the panelists share.
WHAT: The Untold Story of America” Town Hall
Melanie Benjamin – Chief Executive, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
Chuck Hoskins, Jr. – Principal Chief, Cherokee Nation
Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. – Founder and President, Rainbow PUSH Coalition
David Sickey – Chairman, Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana
Santita Jackson, Executive Producer and Co-Host, Keep Hope Alive Radio Show
Saturday, July 4, 2020 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. EDT

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NAC: July 6 – 10

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Monday, July 6, 2020 – Arizona tribes lock down to keep coronavirus at bay
The state of Arizona is struggling to gain control of record-breaking increases of coronavirus infections that threaten to overwhelm health care systems. The surge comes after state officials relaxed measures designed to help prevent the spread of the virus. Tribes within the state, many of whom struggled to gain control of infections within their own borders, are expanding or enacting new measures to try to keep their citizens healthy.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020 – Music Maker: Cary Morin
Finger picking bluesman Cary Morin (Crow Nation) is a musician that likes to bring his life into his work. We touch in with him to hear about his new release “Dockside Saints” where he stretches what he calls Native Americana to include the beloved musical flavors of Cajun and zydeco. We’ll hear how this blending happened for what he says are stories about love, faith, hardship and heritage.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020 – Service workers risk health and livelihood
Waiters, hair dressers, clerks and others who work face-to-face with customers face a lot of uncertainty. Their jobs have been on the line or eliminated since coronavirus restrictions began in March. As some states start reopening, service workers also put themselves at greater risk dealing with the public. At the same time, business owners are contronting significant revenue losses, state health restrictions, and evolving CDC guidelines in order to navigate through the pandemic.

Thursday, July 9, 2020 – Cultivating and preserving fish populations
Native fisheries help stock waterways with species of fish that might not be able to sustain their populations without help. From salmon to trout to walleye, fish are an important resource and often have a cultural tie to the tribes that help keep up their numbers. We’ll hear from several tribes that maintain fish hatcheries to keep this key resource thriving.

Friday, July 10, 2020 – Advocating for your own health
Having good communication with your health provider can make a big difference in the care you receive. But being an advocate for your health takes some work. Whether you get an occasional check-up or regular dialysis, it’s important to be informed about your options. Experts also recommend reading up on your payment options and keeping track of bills and medical records. We’ll get advice on advocating for yourself in the doctor’s office.

The post NAC: July 6 – 10 appeared first on Native Voice One, by Art Hughes.

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Trump heads to Mount Rushmore for divisive fireworks celebration

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President plans to decry ‘leftwing mob’ in event raising concerns over wildfire risk, respect for tribal land and Covid-19 dangers

Donald Trump is heading to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota on Friday night for an early Fourth of July fireworks celebration that has caused division over its every aspect, from respect for tribal land to wildfire dangers, coronavirus risk and the optics of such a trip when some hospitals are in crisis mode.

The president plans a fiery speech at the mountain monument where four presidents’ faces are carved into the hillside, billed to include denunciations of protesters attacking Confederate statues who he will say are trying to “tear down” the nation’s history.

Related: Trump abuses our national parks, and he’s doing it again at Mount Rushmore | Jonathan B Jarvis and Gary Machlis

Related: Fourth of July celebrations increase risk of ‘superspreader’ events, experts warn

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