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Native American Day 2018: Facts About North America's Indigenous People

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Phil Little Thunder from the Rosebud Reservation wears his ceremonial outfit in the tribal area on the grounds of the Fort Laramie National Historic Site in Fort Laramie, Wyoming, April 29, 2018. Photo: REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

By Vaishnavi Vaidyanathan, International Business Times

Native American Day is celebrated in the U.S. states of California and Nevada on the fourth Friday of September. This year it falls on Sept. 28.

In 1968, Ronald Reagan, the then- California Governor, signed a resolution calling for a holiday called American Indian Day. It was established as an official state holiday in 1998 to teach people of all ages about the tribal cultures, histories and heritage of the Native American tribes.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the largest tribal groups in the nation include the Cherokee, Navajo, Chippewa, Choctaw and Sioux and a total of 566 Native American tribes are federally recognized.

Many celebrities including Anne Hathaway, Megan Fox, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Burt Reynolds, Johnny Depp, Rosa Parks, Kevin Costner, Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley and Oprah Winfrey are believed to have Native American ancestry.

Here are some interesting facts about Native Americans:

1. Native Americans have been living on the North American continent since about 12,000 B.C. Though they were not living in a single nation, they had a rich variety of culture, people, and languages.

2. There were an estimated 18 to 20 million Native Americans living in the U.S. when Europeans set foot on its soil. They carried numerous animals such as sheep and pigs that the indigenous people had never seen before.

3. Thousands of Native Americans voluntarily served in World War I. In order to honor them, the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 was signed which granted citizenship to the country’s indigenous people, MSN reported.

4. Many Native American words such as chia, chili, chocolate, coyote, guacamole, mesquite, peyote, shack, tamale, tomato, abalone, bayou, cannibal, Chinook, manatee, poncho, and potato have entered the English language, Fact Retriever reported.

5. Names of half of the U.S. States such as Arizona, Connecticut, Kentucky, and Missouri are derived from Native Americans words. Oklahoma got its name from Choctaw words "okla" and "humma," which means "red people” and Utah received its name from the Ute tribe, meaning "people of the mountains."

6. The Mohawk hairstyle was associated with the tribe of the same name and it is believed that the members of the tribe pluck their hair out instead of shaving.

7. Many zoos in the U.S. preserve feathers that come off many of their birds and distribute them to Native American tribes for their religious ceremonies.

8. Many U.S army helicopters are named after Native American tribes as the first U.S air force bases were located on native reserves.

9. One of the most painful Native American ceremonies was the Sun Dance which involved dancers having skewers implanted in their chest muscles and being attached by rope to the sacred cottonwood tree. In return for their pain, they hope for a plentiful supply of buffalo.

10. Some Native American tribes make "cry sheds" from mud and natural debris to represent their troubles and fears. They then set it on fire. As it burns, it is believed that the tribe’s misfortunes will be released into the world, while removing it from the community.

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U.S. - U.S. Daily News: Native American Day 2018: Facts About North America's Indigenous People
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