Indigenous Peoples’ Day advocates for the recognition and correction of the “whitewashed” American history that has glorified explorers like Christopher Columbus who have committed violence against Indigenous communities.
European contact lead to a devastating loss of life, a disruption of culture, and a staggering loss of land for Indigenous People. It is estimated that within 130 years of European contact, Native Americans lost 95% of their population. NINTEY FIVE PERCENT.
Native Americans have long criticized the inaccuracies and harmful narratives of Columbus’ legacy that credited him with his “discovery” of the Americas when Indigenous people were here for tens of thousands of years.
Should we still celebrate Columbus Day?
Celebrating Columbus and other explorers like him dismisses the devastating losses experienced by Indigenous People in the past and the ongoing effects of colonialism that are still apparent today.
Is Indigenous Peoples’ Day a Federal Holiday?
Short answer. No.
In 2021, President Joe Biden issued the first proclamation of Indigenous People. This served as the most significant boost to efforts to reform the federal holiday into Indigenous Peoples’ Day rather than Columbus Day.
Despite some misunderstanding of the nature of a presidential proclamation, Indigenous Peoples’ Day is not yet a federal holiday. However, legislation is underway. The Indigenous Peoples’ Day Act would designate the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day nationwide.
How can you celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day?
There isn’t one specific way to celebrate. However, reflection and education is a great way to start.
Discuss with friends, family or collogues how they learned about Columbus and then how they learned the truth about what happened once Columbus arrived.
Share resources with information and facts about Columbus Day, Native Americans and the history of what Native Americans endured once America was ‘found’.
Attend an Indigenous Peoples’ Day event or an event organized by Native Americans.
In the spirit of education and reflection, we’ve pulled together a quick printable sheet with information on Columbus Day vs. Indigenous Peoples’ Day, How to Celebrate, and a short history. Feel free to download the PDF and share it with friends and co-workers.
Check out all of our resources, read through them and share them as a way to celebrate and recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
If you would like to discuss how your organization can recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day, contact us at LetsGo@DiversityCrew.com.
Joe Biden’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day Proclamation
National Museum of the American Indian
USA Today: “What is Indigenous Peoples’ Day?”