Historical Indigenous People’s Day

Nelly Ramos-Laguna

“Today, we recognize indigenous peoples’ resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society.” These are Joe Biden’s words on Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2021. This is the first presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day and is a large step toward shifting attention toward indigenous people. 

Indigenous Peoples’ Day is celebrated on the second Monday of October in lieu of Columbus Day. According to the Native- led organization IllumiNative, “Indigenous Peoples’ Day, at its core, aims to celebrate and honor the past, present, and futures of Native peoples throughout the United States and acknowledges the legacy of colonialism, which has devastated Indigenous communities historically and continues to negatively impact them today” but it also aims to move “beyond the narrative of oppression” and honor “the histories, cultures, contributions, and resilience of contemporary Native peoples.”

Various indigenous activists also explain that representation is important in attaining equality because representation serves as a reflection of how society views a group, but more importantly it influences how others will look at a certain group of people. For example, there are 6.8 million Americans that identify as Native American, but representation of Indigenous people is often rare and stereotypical. The invisibility of Indigenous people leads to a misrepresentation of history and a whitewashed point of view on indigenous populations.

To celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day locally, Seattle organization “SuperFamilia,” is holding both a remembrance and celebration drive through on Indigenous Peoples Day. This is a common thread among Indigenous organizations who aim to remember those who have been and continue to be affected by the history of the US and to celebrate the Indigenous community’s history and culture.