Eight states now recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of Columbus Day
A recognition of America’s First Peoples and a celebration of Native survival and endurance, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, observed the second Monday of October, has replaced Columbus Day in eight states.
South Dakota held its first Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 1989. Seven other states—including Alaska, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon and Vermont—have since followed suit and renamed the holiday.
When former Alaska Governor Bill Walker signed legislation in 2017 recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Alaska, he said it was “just one way we, as a state, can acknowledge and celebrate the contributions made by First Peoples throughout the history of this land.”
CIRI descendant Caleb King was instrumental in getting the city of Bloomington, Ind., to proclaim Indigenous Peoples’ Day. It is also observed in at least 130 other U.S. cities, including Albuquerque and Santa Fe, N.M.; Austin, Texas; and Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Seattle. Celebrations around Indigenous Peoples’ Day often include traditional foods, educational lectures, games, dances and songs.
“Indigenous Peoples’ Day recognizes that Alaska Native and American Indian (AN/AI) people are the first inhabitants of the present-day United States,” said CIRI President and CEO Sophie Minich. “As a proud Athabascan person, this day urges us to rethink history and raise awareness of the rich culture, history and traditions of AN/AI people in the Americas. I invite our shareholders, descendants and their families to annually commemorate Indigenous Peoples’ Day by strengthening connections to their heritage, taking action for the rights and needs of Indigenous peoples, and simply celebrating the fact we have thrived and survived in our homelands for more than 10,000 years!”