NMAI Answers: ‘Do American Indians celebrate the 4th of July?’

Posted By Toyacoyah Brown July 6th, 2014 Last Updated on: July 6th, 2014

Dennis Zotigh (Kiowa/San Juan Pueblo/Santee Dakota Indian) is a writer and cultural specialist at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. He recently posed the question, “Do American Indians celebrate the 4th of July?” on the NMAI blog. In his essay he delves into a bit of U.S. history and then turns his attention to what tribes do today.

Today tribes hold ceremonies and celebrations on or near Independence Day for different reasons. The Lumbee of North Carolina and Mattaponi of Virginia use this time as a homecoming for tribal members to renew cultural and family ties. The Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma holds Gourd Clan ceremonies on the 4th of July 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 continue to 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. Some American Indians do not celebrate the 4th of July because of the negative consequences to Indian people throughout history, while others simply get together with family and have cookouts, like many non-Native American citizens.

How did you spend your 4th?

Make sure you read the essay in full! Visit the NMAI blog.

Home » Native American Articles » Native American Culture » NMAI Answers: ‘Do American Indians celebrate the 4th of July?'

About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with PowWows.com readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.

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