We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are Some Native American Holidays?

By Kristin Wood
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
America Explained is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At America Explained, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

There are several Native American holidays and traditional festivals. Most tribes have their own individual celebrations, but many of the holidays have common themes or purposes. The holidays often celebrate nature, the spiritual world, or people's ancestors. Popular holidays might honor the sun, the rain, or crops needed to sustain life. Many holidays stretch for a week, rather than just one day.

The start of the new year is honored by some Native Americans, although many tribes have selected different dates as the last day of the year. The Hopi and the Zuni both celebrate a new year's celebration on 22 December. This ceremony is called Soyal, and it is a time of renewal and purification. A ritual is conducted to welcome the sun back after winter.

The Makahiki new year festival is celebrated in Hawaii in October. It celebrates new beginnings and honors the Hawaiian god Lono, who represents fertility, music and rain. There are three phases of Makahiki, with the first consisting of purification and spiritual cleansing. During the second phase, the Native Hawaiians celebrate with hula dancing and athletic competitions. The final phase honors Lono and tests the tribe's current chief to ensure he is still worthy as a leader.

The Tewa Native Americans celebrate three dances throughout the year honoring a different animal each time. The year begins with a turtle dance, which remembers and honors the day of creation. For three days in October, they celebrate with the deer dance, which represents both femininity and masculinity. The next month, the buffalo is recognized, and the Tewa see this as a time of healing and life.

Native American holidays often celebrate the sun as a life-giving power, both physically and spiritually. The Inca called their sun god Inti, and they celebrated him during the Inti Raymi. This festival traditionally begins on 21 June, the southern hemisphere's winter solstice. The celebrations consist of elaborate dances and the wearing of many bright colors. Originally, animal sacrifices were offered in hopes of an abundant year.

The tribes typically celebrated the rain as often as they honored the sun. The Iroquois and the Mayans both held rain celebrations during their wet seasons. The Iroquois thunder ceremony was held for a week in mid-April, with celebrations during the ceremony including rain dances and story-telling sessions that pass along mythology explaining the cause of rain, clouds, and lightning.

Many of these holidays are about food, crops, or hunting. The Zuni, Cherokee, and Iroquois all have holidays to celebrate the growth and harvest of corn. Other crops honored among common Native Americans are squash, strawberries, and maple trees.

America Explained is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon322645 — On Feb 28, 2013

I want to know what are the most well known holidays for the Native Americans?

By anon296197 — On Oct 10, 2012

The Native Americans got Animism from the Africans (not the Negroes -- there's a difference). Anyway, the belief in animalistic gods or animism is traced back to the Africans, and the Natives came from the east to the west on ships. Do your research.

By anon295582 — On Oct 07, 2012

There are stupid people of all races. I think it is a fair question. We all know about the white man's holidays, but what of our own? All natives are one people. All people are one people, and there are too many tribes to mention, so sorry, but I am not offended when people call me "Indian," if for no other reason than that my genealogy would take a lifetime to explain.

By anon232701 — On Dec 02, 2011

@BigBloom: Not all white people think the same. Stereotypes go both ways. I see what you mean, though.

By Proxy414 — On Feb 04, 2011

This kind of question is like asking "what are some native Asian holidays?" Asia has so many different cultures, the question is ridiculous. America also was home to a bunch of native cultures which all were quite different from each other. Today, America has more of a unified yet diverse culture, but we must remember that it was not always so unified.

By BigBloom — On Feb 02, 2011

Animism is a very common religion, and the forms it takes can vary depending on region, tribe, and even family group. In Papua New Guinea, for instance, you have thousands of tribes which have remarkably different systems of speaking and celebrating their religions. America is no different. White man tends to group all natives together as one people, but this is simply not the case. There are too many holidays to mention.

America Explained, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

America Explained, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.