Alabama Indigenous Coalition members and supporters march on Dexter Ave. in Montgomery, Ala., on Monday, Oct. 14, 2019. Alabama Indigenous Coalition wants the city to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Image via Montgomery Advertiser.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a holiday that celebrates and honors Native American Peoples and commemorates their histories and cultures. For many states it is celebrated on the same day as, or has replaced Columbus Day. The celebrating of Indigenous Peoples’ Day took root at an international conference on discrimination sponsored by the United Nations in 1977. South Dakota was the first state to recognize the day in 1989.
When we learn about American history, we must begin before European contact and correct the past wrongs in regards to Native American Peoples and their lives and impact on our Country’s history. This is the problem with Columbus Day. The celebration of Columbus Day suggests that there was no civilization before contact, or rather, the misconception that the people who did reside on this land beforehand were uncivilized. As American Society has largely begun to dismantle hate, abuse and misogyny, we have realized that all of these were known and well documented traits of Christopher Columbus. His greed for gold and power wiped out numerous tribes and nations across the globe. Instead of celebrating his actions, we should instead, celebrate the Native Peoples who inhabited this land before Europeans arrived and how much of their culture has been forgotten.