Indigenous Peoples’ Day

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“Indigenous People’s Day” by CSUF Photos is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Indigenous Peoples’ Day, celebrated annually on October 11th, honors those of Native American heritage and their contributions to American history. This day is used to celebrate diversity and cultural visibility for those whose being shaped America to be what it is today.

“Typically on the second Monday of October, Indigenous Peoples’ Day recognizes the Indigenous communities that have lived in the United States for thousands of years,” Melina Belkic of The New York Times says.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day was first proposed by a group Native American descendents at a United Nations conference in 1977. It’s no coincidence that this day falls exactly on Columbus Day, as it was established in order to curb the mentality that Christopher Columbus solely discovered North America.

“Indigenous Peoples’ Day advocates say the recognition helps correct a “whitewashed” American history that has glorified Europeans like Italian explorer Christopher Columbus who have committed violence against Indigenous communities.” Emma Bowen of NPR said.

Many ask the question as to why Indigenous Peoples’ day is important and why it is celebrated. This day allows those who have been oppressed under the hand of colonialism to appreciate their culture, and to allow others to learn about the true history of America. Those of Native American descent think of this day as a step in the right direction of un-whitewashing history and the teaching of the original population of North America.

“Italian American culture is important, and I think there are other times and places to recognize that. But I think it’s also important to also recognize the history of Columbus Day itself,” Dylan Baca, a 19-year-old of Native descent says.

While Columbus Day is important and should be commemorated, the tragedies that come with it must also be remembered. Indigenous People’s Day is not only the celebration of culture and history, but also the memory of lives lost and civilizations destroyed.