Reports are circulating — on Twitter and elsewhere — that Donald Trump has cancelled Native American Heritage Month and replaced it with a new designation: National American History and Founders Month.
They think we are not paying attention as they implement their white nationalist agenda. This administration just replaced Native American History Month with National American History and Founders Month. The erasure of our indigenous fam is outrageous. https://t.co/J6CbLcn48o
— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) November 5, 2019
They’re wrong. On Thursday, Trump continued a tradition started by President George H.W. Bush back in 1990 and declared the month of November National Native American Heritage Month. The same day, the president issued a second — and new — proclamation declaring November “National American History and Founders Month,” too.
“To continue to advance liberty and prosperity, we must ensure the next generation of leaders is steeped in the proud history of our country,” that proclamation declared.
Reading the proclamation for National American History and Founders Month, though, it’s hard to tell who it’s actually for. It mentions the declaration of Independence and the Revolutionary War, the U.S.’s efforts to liberate Europe from Nazi control during World War II, and success “placing the first ever man on the moon 50 years ago.”
If it weren’t for a passing reference to the “victories of the Civil Rights Movement,” it would be easy to argue that with the National American History and Founders Month Trump was trying to deliver for the plurality of his supporters — 37 percent, per a 2018 poll — who believe there ought to be a “White History Month.” (And given the fact that President Trump has slashed funding for Native services, approved the Dakota Access and Keystone oil pipelines over tribal objections, and made light of the Native American massacre at Wounded Knee it’s not hard to imagine that the double proclamation was meant to purposefully undermine Native Americans.)
But the provenance of National American History and Founders Month is actually a lot more boring — and swampy — than the reports circulating online. According to a website created to promote the cause, National American History and Founders Month is the passion project of Dr. Jennifer Burkhart London, wife to major Republican donor Jack London.
According to campaign finance records, in 2016, London — executive chairman and chairman of the board of the Arlington, Virginia-based defense contractor CACI International Inc. — gave more than $100,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, $33,400 to the RNC, tens of thousands of dollars to Republican parties of various states, and the maximum donation to Donald J. Trump For President. London appears poised to replicate those donations in 2019, too: he’s already donated an additional $50,000 to Trump Victory and $44,400 to the RNC.
And London has been rewarded for his efforts. In addition to the presidential proclamation, National American History and Founders Month has been commemorated in a number of states, including Alabama, Arkansas, and Oklahoma; efforts are underway to pass it more than 10 others states, including Missouri. Neither CACI nor the White House responded to requests for comment.