American Indian Citizenship Day Date in the current year: June 2, 2024

American Indian Citizenship Day American Indian Citizenship Day, also known as Native American Citizenship Day, is observed annually on June 2. It was created to commemorate the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 that granted United States citizenship to all Native Americans born in the country.

For most of United States history, Native Americans were not citizens and, consequently, could not enjoy associated rights and privileges. When the United States gained independence, indigenous tribes were regarded as separate nations with citizenship and treaty rights, so Native Americans were not considered to be U.S. citizens. Article One of the U.S. Constitution does not count “Indians not taxed” in the population of a state for the purpose of apportionment.

The first Native Americans to become U.S. citizens were the Mississippi Choctaw under the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek that was signed in 1830 and went into effect in 1831. By this treaty, the Choctaw ceded their land in what is now Mississippi in exchange for land in the Indian territory (what is now Oklahoma). Those of the Choctaw who did not want to move and chose to stay in Mississippi were granted citizenship.

In 1857, the United States Supreme Court stated in its ruling in Dred Scott vs. Sandford that Native Americans were not citizens but could acquire citizenship by naturalization. The Civil Rights Act of 1866, interpretations of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and the Supreme Court ruling in Elk v. Wilkins in 1884 further reinforced the exclusion of Native Americans from citizenship.

The Dawes Act of 1887 allowed Native Americans to acquire citizenship, but only if they supported the division of reservation lands into privately owned lots and accepted individual land allotments. As a result, indigenous tribes ceded control of about 100 million acres of land by 1934.

The attitude towards granting Native Americans citizenship by birthright began to shift during World War I, when many Native Americans signed up for military service despite not being American citizens. The recognition of their willingness to fight for the United States was one of the factors that eventually led to the passing of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. The Act granted citizenship to all Native Americans born in the United States who had not already become citizens by other means, without them having to give up tribal citizenship or apply for citizenship.

It should be noted that the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 granted Native Americans citizenship, but not the right to vote because voting rights were regulated on the state level. Some states refused Native Americans the right to vote despite their being citizens of the United States. The voting rights of racial minorities in the United States were secured by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

American Indian Citizenship Day is not an official holiday, but it is observed by the indigenous peoples of the United States, human rights organizations, educational institutions, and other stakeholders.

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American Indian Citizenship Day, Native American Citizenship Day, observances in the United States, Indian Citizenship Act of 1924