Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Something special happened in America on Friday.

On Friday, President Biden proclaimed October 11 to be Indigenous People’s Day. As the proclamation states, “On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, our Nation celebrates the invaluable contributions and resilience of Indigenous peoples, recognizes their inherent sovereignty, and commits to honoring the Federal Government’s trust and treaty obligations to Tribal Nations.”

The entire proclamation is worth a read, and it brings tears to my eyes. The words must be backed up by actions, but the words are a good start.

I say this as someone whose family came from Germany and France in the 1800s, not as an indigenous person myself. I’m American, but this is a good reminder that there were people in America long before anyone else sailed over here.

As NPR’s article on the subject points out, it’s no coincidence that today was selected as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, as the second Monday of October is also Columbus Day. Unlike what we Americans were taught in elementary school (and beyond), “American history that has glorified Europeans like Italian explorer Christopher Columbus who have committed violence against Indigenous communities.” It’s about time we honor the people who were here long before Columbus stumbled upon this continent.

I have a small recommendation for today , something I mentioned in an article earlier this year: There are a few excellent television shows on NBC (Peacock is their streaming service) that star Native American actors and delve into modern Native American life. Those shows are Rutherford Falls and Resident Alien, and if you haven’t watched them, what better day to start than today?

I also welcome any suggestions and thoughts from readers–particularly American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians–about how we can best honor and support indigenous peoples on a day like today (and beyond).

4 thoughts on “Indigenous Peoples’ Day”

  1. We have a similar “problem” here in Australia. Australia Day is the 26th of January, the date (in 1776) that the First Fleet of European settlers arrived. Essential this celebrates an invasion, and is obviously problematic, dismissing the 40,000 years that the aborigines were living here before that.

    We have not come to a solution as yet, but the most recent Australia Day celebrations have brought a lot of conversation. Hopefully something gets sorted soonish.


    • We do have NAIDOC week which, while around for decades, has really been picking up steam in the past ten years or so.

      We have lots of great events surrounding Indigenous culture at the school where I teach.


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