Indigenous Peoples’ Day is celebrated on the second Monday of October, on October 10 this year, to honor the cultures and histories of the Native American people. The day is centered around reflecting on their tribal roots and the tragic stories that hurt but strengthened their communities.
HISTORY OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' DAY
The first seed of Indigenous Peoples’ Day was planted at a U.N. international conference on discrimination in 1977. The first state to recognize the day was South Dakota in 1989. Berkeley, California, and Santa Cruz followed suit.
Although it was still considered Columbus Day up to 1937, many people began calling it Indigenous Peoples’ Day to celebrate the rich culture and the lives of the Native American people.
For the Native Americans, Columbus Day was always hurtful as it glorified the violent past constituting 500 years of colonial torture and oppression by European explorers like Columbus and those who settled in America. Indigenous Peoples’ Day draws attention to the pain, trauma, and broken promises erased by the celebration of Columbus Day. Before his arrival, the indigenous folk was thriving, self-sufficient communities that sustained life for thousands of years.
Year by year, the movement to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day spreads to more and more states, towns, and cities across the United States of America.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrates, recognizes, and honors the beautiful traditions and cultures of the Indigenous People, not just in America but worldwide. Their way of life and culture carries wisdom and valuable insights into how we can live more sustainably.
Today, 14 U.S. states celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day and not Columbus Day, as well as the District of Columbia. More than 130 cities, including Arlington, Amherst, Cambridge, Brookline, Marblehead, Great Barrington, Northampton, Provincetown, Somerville, and Salem, also celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' DAY TIMELINE May 1763 Pontiac’s Rebellion A group of Native American tribes from Illinois, Great Lakes, and Ohio successfully persuade the British to change policies in favor of the Native Americans. April 5, 1838 Trail of Tears The Cherokee tribe was ordered to leave their tribal lands by President Andrew Jackson, taking the path now called the Trail of Tears. January 1, 1899 Ghost Dance Wovoka, a Native American, has a mystical experience and makes others join him in a ghost dance ritual for peace and prosperity. June 2, 1924 Indian Citizenship Act Native Americans in the U.S. are granted U.S. citizenship.
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' DAY FAQS
When did Columbus Day become Indigenous Peoples’ Day?
In 1992, Columbus Day became Indigenous People's Day as a sign of protest against the Native Americans' massacres at the hands of the Europeans.
How does Indigenous Peoples’ Day help our community?
The day helps remedy the harmful effects of racism in the U.S. and the inaccurate historical facts that have been spread to justify white supremacy and colonization.
Why shouldn't we celebrate Columbus Day?
Celebrating Columbus Day and Columbus himself goes against the very essence of indigenous nations as he was the man who began the genocide of the Native Americans.
HOW TO CELEBRATE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ DAY
Read indigenous literature Some must-read books include “A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies” by Bartolomé de las Casas, “1491: New Revelations Of The Americas Before Columbus” by Charles C. Mann, “An Indigenous People's History Of The United States” by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, and “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown.
Attend an event Attend an event hosted by a group of Native Americans or a Native American organization. Learn more about how you can be of assistance with any issues that the group is facing.
Host a movie screening Watch a movie with your friends and have a discussion afterward. There are a plethora of films to choose from, like “Dances with Wolves” (1990), “Songs My Brothers Taught Me” (2015), “Gather” (2020), and “Indian Horse” (2017).
5 FACTS ABOUT INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ DAY
Female warriors Native American women fought alongside men in battles, the most popular among them being the Buffalo Calf Road Woman of the Northern Cheyenne tribe.
Popcorn The Indigenous Americans were the first to domesticate the strains of maize that produced popcorn thousands of years ago.
Maria Tallchief The first Native American (and American) to dance at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and with the Paris Opera Ballet was Maria Tallchief.
Hockey The Native American tribes of Foxes, Saux, and Assiniboine played a game called shinny, where hockey came from.
The sequoia tree The sequoia tree is named after the revered Cherokee leader Sequoyah, who created an alphabet for his people.
WHY INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ DAY IS IMPORTANT
It celebrates the original inhabitants. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a holiday that celebrates the Native Americans, the original inhabitants of North America.
It recognizes indigenous cultures. Indigenous Peoples’ Day honors the beautiful indigenous traditions, cultures, and lives worldwide.
It stands in solidarity with the indigenous people We take a stand for and support the indigenous people on this day. We should also offer our support to those who invest and uplift the indigenous communities.