Society

Support For 'Indigenous Peoples Day' Grows In U.S.

| by Ray Brown
Tsuu T'ina children in traditional costume at a Stampede ParadeTsuu T'ina children in traditional costume at a Stampede Parade

More people around the United States are celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day.

The second Monday in October has been designated as Columbus Day in the U.S. since 1971 and celebrated as a national holiday since 1937. But with more awareness of the atrocities committed against indigenous people by European colonists, beginning in the 1400s, there has been a greater call for respecting the memory of the indigenous people in what is now known as North and South America.

In Phoenix, the city council voted 9-0 to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day, reported USA Today.

“The city of Phoenix is built on what was the Hohokam civilization," Phoenix resident Jeff Malkoon told council members. "We just think this is a significant statement for a city like Phoenix, being such a center point in the Southwest."

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And on Oct. 3, Denver politicians voted to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day, as well, reported KMGH.

“Far too often the contributions of indigenous peoples go unrecognized in our history and textbooks, misrepresenting how much of the United States was settled, including Denver,” said Denver Councilman Paul Lopez.

Other U.S. cities that have made Indigenous Peoples Day official include Minneapolis, Seattle, Portland, San Antonio, and Boulder, CO.

And in Vermont, Republican Gov. Peter Smith proclaimed the entire state will acknowledge Indigenous Peoples Day.

"The state of Vermont recognizes the historical, cultural, and contemporary significance of the Indigenous Peoples of the lands that later became known as the Americas, including Vermont, and values the many contributions of these peoples," Smith's proclamation states, according to the Burlington Free Press. “The proclamation also honors the Abenaki and their ancestors and allies, who first lived upon the lands later known as Vermont.

Activists who have been pushing for the idea hope that it gives people a better understanding of American history, which they claim whitewashes the truth about how Europeans colonized the Americas through force, violence, and genocide.

"Indigenous Peoples Day represents a shift in consciousness," said Dr. Leo Killsback, a citizen of the Northern Cheyenne Nation and assistant professor of American Indian Studies at Arizona State University, according to CNN. "It acknowledges that indigenous peoples and their voices are important in today's conversations."

Sources: USA Today, KMGH, CNN, Burlington Free Press / Photo credit: Qyd/Wikimedia Commons

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