This upcoming Monday, October 12th, is Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which falls annually on the second Monday in October! Why Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of Columbus Day? Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a very important holiday because Indigenous People have been abused ever since Christopher Columbus came to the Americas. We know that Columbus did not “discover” the Americas, as Indigenous People were here first. For many of us, we were taught inaccuracies in elementary and middle school about Columbus as a hero with no regard to the violence that was inflicted on Indigenous People at that time and thereafter. Although not recognized federally, we can continue to celebrate Indigenous People on this day and all the other days in the year by learning about their culture and taking action. “According to the 2010 Decennial Census, 0.9% of the U.S. population, or 2.9 million people, identified as American Indian or Alaska Native alone, while 1.7% of the U.S. population, or 5.2 million people, identified as American Indian or Alaska Native alone or in combination with another race” (“Demographics”).
The first Indigenous Peoples’ Day was in 1992 in Berkely, California as a counter-celebration of Columbus Day (“Indigenous Peoples’ Day”) because “For Native Americans, Columbus Day has long been hurtful. It conjures the violent history of 500 years of colonial oppression at the hands of European explorers and those who settled here — a history whose ramifications and wounds still run deep today” (Fadel). It is not a federally recognized holiday. Only a few states and cities recognize this holiday, but it only began to take momentum starting in 2014. The list of states and cities that have adopted this holiday can be found here.
We should relearn, or rather learn more, what we know about Indigenous People. In fact, it is our responsibility. A great resource is IllumiNative, where you can learn more about Indigenous People and ways to take action. “Created and led by Native peoples, IllumiNative is a new nonprofit initiative designed to increase the visibility of – and challenge the negative narrative about – Native Nations and peoples in American society” (“Home”).
“Demographics.” NCAI, 1 June 2020, www.ncai.org/about-tribes/demographics.
Fadel, Leila. “Columbus Day Or Indigenous Peoples’ Day?” NPR, NPR, 14 Oct. 2019, www.npr.org/2019/10/14/769083847/columbus-day-or-indigenous-peoples-day.
“Home.” IllumiNative, 26 June 2020, https://illuminatives.org.
“Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Sept. 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigenous_Peoples%27_Day.