America Celebrates First Indigenous Peoples Day

America Celebrates First Indigenous Peoples Day

History has always been told from the perspective of the victors. Since the first celebration of Columbus Day in 1792 to 2020, the exclusion of Indigenous voices was a topic of many criticisms. After all, had a single man “discovered” an entire half of the world when there were already people living there?

In order to properly explain the criticisms of Columbus Day, the American Indian Movement (AIM) said that “Columbus was the beginning of the American holocaust, ethnic cleansing characterized by murder, torture, raping, pillaging, robbery, slavery, kidnapping, and forced removals of Indian people from their homelands. …We say that to celebrate the legacy of this murderer is an affront to all Indian peoples and others who truly understand this history”.

One of the first official celebrations of Indigenous People’s Day was in Berkeley, California. In 1992 (the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage) the city council formally adopted the holiday. They have since been celebrating Indigenous People’s Day instead of Columbus Day.

People in years since continued to protest for the removal of the holiday. A particularly memorable Columbus Day was held just last year when protestors pulled down statues of Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln from their pedestals. This event sparked even more conversation on the topic, with some who praised the protestors and some who were angry at the acts.

The White House’s official statement on October 8, 2021 finally put a rest to all arguments. President Biden, who issued a memorandum promising respect and acknowledgement to Indigenous groups during his first week in office, removed Columbus Day in exchange for a nationally-sanctioned Indigenous Peoples Day.

“On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we honor America’s first inhabitants and the Tribal Nations that continue to thrive today. I encourage everyone to celebrate and recognize the many Indigenous communities and cultures that make up our great country,” he said in his proclamation.

Though criticized for his negligence concerning the Indigenous groups, Biden’s proclamation is a good step towards the further acknowledgement of Native American peoples.

“I really enjoy the fact that our country as a whole is taking in multiple perspectives of America’s history. The knowledge that was once limited can now have multiple perspectives and allows people to gain a new outlook on situations that were once short-expressed,” said Ava Milevski, a sophomore at Hills.

Celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day means so much more than a different name for a holiday. The recognition of Native Americans as a crucial part of America gives hope for the future. It allows America to acknowledge the white-washing of history, and a chance to repair the damages of the past.

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