Indigenous Peoples Day

October 9, 2023 – As Indigenous peoples all over the world, we’ve been dehumanized so much. Celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day is a powerful start to express our humanity. It’s important that we embrace and reclaim our identity in a safe way.

No matter where you walk in America, you’re walking on stolen land. When the Americas were being settled, Indigenous leaders fought and were ultimately confined to reservations. Many prophesied the Red Nations would rise after seven generations, and it would be a blessing for a troubled world. A world where our land and water are at risk, a world where our youth feel broken, and Native lives are threatened.

Each year, what was formally known as Columbus Day, is now recognized as Indigenous Peoples Day. Native American people celebrate their centuries-long history of resilience on Indigenous Peoples Day with ceremonies, traditional songs, dances, games, community gatherings, motivational speeches, food, and much more.

The events across the U.S. came two years after President Joe Biden officially commemorated Indigenous Peoples Day in 2021. President Biden issued the first-ever presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples Day. He said in a statement that the day is meant to “honor America’s first inhabitants and the Tribal Nations that continue to thrive today.”

Indigenous Peoples Day is about reclaiming histories. It’s acknowledging the past of dispossession and violence against all Indigenous people who were here first.

An increasing number of states and cities have begun to recognize the holiday, moving away from a long-rooted celebration of explorer Christopher Columbus to one focused on the Native nations whose lives and culture were forever changed by colonialism.

Columbus was a lost explorer who stumbled into this part of the world and brought famine, annexation, and the deaths of millions of Indigenous peoples.

Although Indigenous Peoples Day is not yet a federal holiday, 17 states have holidays honoring Native Americans. Most of which are on the second Monday in October, pairing with Columbus Day to replace the federal holiday. Dozens of cities and school systems recognize Indigenous Peoples Day as well.

We celebrate our survival of Columbus and all that he brought. When we celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day in place of Columbus Day, it shows a victory for Indigenous people. It represents how we will not be erased, how we continue to stand in our power, no matter what they did to erase us and steal our land.

It is a celebration of our resilience and resistance. It’s an effort to reclaim the visibility of Native peoples.

Native people are coming together, and non-natives are paying attention to us now. Our issues are finally being talked about outside of our reservations and communities. It’s a great time to be alive as an Indigenous person.

This article was written by CHANTAL ELLENWOOD.

All views, thoughts, and opinions expressed by the author are solely that of the author and do not reflect the views, opinions, policies, or position of the Nez Perce Tribe or its Communications Department.

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