Quick Hit(s): Indigenous Peoples Day

Not that it makes up for centuries of colonization and genocide, but more and U.S. cities are choosing each year to officially make the second Monday of October a celebration of the indigenous people of their region, and not of the deplorable individual credited with “discovering” them.

The state of Alaska

In an executive proclamation, Gov. Bill Walker wrote that “Alaska is built upon the homelands and communities of the Indigenous Peoples of this region, without whom the building of the state would not be possible.” He pointed out that 16% of Alaskans have indigenous heritage, and that “the State opposes systematic racism toward Indigenous Peoples of Alaska or any Alaskans of any origin and promotes policies and practices that reflect the experiences of Indigenous Peoples, ensure greater access and opportunity, and honor our nation’s indigenous roots, history.”

Albuquerque, New Mexico; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Olympia, Washington

The campaigns [led by Native American activists in dozens of cities] say the federal holiday honoring Christopher Columbus — and the parades and pageantry accompanying it — overlook a painful history of colonialism, enslavement, discrimination and land grabs that followed the Italian explorer’s 1492 arrival in the Americas. The indigenous holiday takes into account the history and contributions of Native Americans for a more accurate historical record, activists have argued.


“For the Native community here, Indigenous Peoples Day means a lot. We actually have something,” said Nick Estes of Albuquerque, who is coordinating a celebration Monday after the City Council recently issued a proclamation. “We understand it’s just a proclamation, but at the same time, we also understand this is the beginning of something greater.”

Multnomah County, Oregon; and Traverse City, Michigan

“Reclaiming the second Monday in October as Indigenous People’s Day makes a powerful statement,” Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said in a statement. “It says, ‘We are no longer going to celebrate a time of genocide, but instead we will honor the land we live on and the people who have been here since the beginning.”‘


“This (resolution) not only represents that we have been here for 10,000 years or longer … more importantly it recognizes that we are still here and that we are alive,” Arlene Kashata, a Traverse City resident and member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, told the Traverse City Record-Eagle when the her town voted to recognize Indigenous People’s Day. “That we are a culture that is giving and contributing to this community.”

Denver, Colorado

Denver joins at least nine cities in refocusing Columbus Day — a federal holiday declared in 1937 to mark Christopher Columbus’s 1492 voyage to the Western Hemisphere — to celebrate indigenous natives who lived on the North American continent long before European explorers set foot. Critics argue that devoting a day to Columbus is not only misleading but celebrates a violent history of colonialism, enslavement, and discrimination.

Denver’s proclamation noted that 48 Native American tribes call Colorado home, with the Denver metro area alone boasting descendants of about 100 groups.

Before this year, Columbus Day had already been replaced by more appropriate celebrations in Seattle, Washington; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Berkeley, California; and the entire states of South Dakota and Hawaii.

9 comments for “Quick Hit(s): Indigenous Peoples Day

  1. pheenobarbidoll
    October 20, 2015 at 11:13 am

    If you want to understand how deeply colonizers detest Indigenous people in the US, go read their responses to eliminating a holiday named after a guy who never stepped a toe on US soil. The white tears, they be a flowin.

    They’ll even cop to belief in evolution, because it suits their argument that we’re all migrants, because Africa.

  2. PrettyAmiable
    October 20, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Speaking of colonizing privilege…

    A friend of mine got married in Maui a couple weeks ago, and I went alongside my boyfriend. Man, if you want to get a good view of what colonization looks like (and participate in it, unfortunately), go check out Hawaii. Or, you know what? Maybe we shouldn’t.

    • Tim
      October 28, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      I’ve never especially had the bug for a trip to Hawaii, but it seems to be the fondest life dream of a lot of people I know. The more I heard about the history and the colonization factors you mention, the less I wanted to. Then I lived in Las Vegas for a few years. There are a lot of Hawaiians living there, and the reason almost universally seemed to be that they simply couldn’t afford to live in Hawaii anymore. That was when I really swore off ever going there.

  3. October 20, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    We didn’t do Thanksgiving this year. Instead, we celebrated Indigenous Day with a couple of friends (one of whom is First Nations), big white cake that said “Happy Fuck Columbus Day”. It was awesomeness. :D

    But seriously, man, fuck Columbus and all his ilk. I’m glad people are moving away from it. And thanks for the coverage!

    • pheenobarbidoll
      October 20, 2015 at 3:46 pm

      Hahahahahahaha happy fuck Columbus day is amazing

      • October 20, 2015 at 4:08 pm


        Next year, we’re going to put Columbus’ shitty face on the cake, so we can experience delicious vengeance by serving cake. It is verily the best of all worlds.

      • pheenobarbidoll
        October 20, 2015 at 10:19 pm

        Stab him in the face for me.

      • October 20, 2015 at 10:25 pm


        If anyone else would like their names to be on the Ceremonial Stab Roll, this is the place to apply!

    • HowIsBabbyFormed
      October 21, 2015 at 12:05 pm

      I hope you ordered the cake and had the store decorate it for you.

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