Indigenous People Day

“Since time immemorial, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians have built vibrant and diverse cultures — safeguarding land, language, spirit, knowledge, and tradition across the generations.  On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, our Nation celebrates the invaluable contributions and resilience of Indigenous peoples, recognizes their inherent sovereignty, and commits to honoring the Federal Government’s trust and treaty obligations to Tribal Nations.” – U.S. President, Joseph Biden Jr. 


  • Indigenous People Day is a holiday in the United States that celebrates and honors Native American peoples and commemorates their histories and cultures.
  • In 1977, the International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas, sponsored by the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, began to discuss replacing Columbus Day in the Americas with a celebration to be known as Indigenous Peoples Day.
  • Similarly, Native American groups staged a sort of protest in Boston instead of Thanksgiving, which has been celebrated there to mark collaboration between Massachusetts colonists and Native Americans in the first years. 
  • Indigenous Peoples’ Day was instituted in Berkeley, California, in 1992, to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Columbus in the Americas on October 12, 1492. Two years later, Santa Cruz, California, instituted the holiday. Starting in 2014, many other cities and states adopted the holiday.
  • On October 8, 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden became the first U.S. President to formally recognize the holiday, by signing a presidential proclamation declaring October 11, 2021, to be a national holiday.
  • It is celebrated across the United States on the second Monday in October, and is an official city and state holiday in various places. 
  • Indigenous Peoples’ Day began as a counter-celebration held on the same day as the U.S. federal holiday of Columbus Day, which honors Genovese-born explorer Christopher Columbus. Some people reject celebrating him, saying that he represents “the violent history of the colonization in the Western Hemisphere”. 
  • By the middle of 1920, 35 states had voted to ratify the amendment, but four other states—Connecticut, Vermont, North Carolina and Florida – refused to consider the resolution for numerous reasons

What About Columbus Day:

  • In his 2021 speech, Biden praised the role of Italian Americans in U.S. society, but also referenced the violence and harm Columbus and other explorers of the age brought about on the Americas.
    • “We also acknowledge the painful history of wrongs and atrocities that many European explorers inflicted on tribal nations and Indigenous communities,” Biden said. “It is a measure of our greatness as a nation that we do not seek to bury these shameful episodes of our past – that we face them honestly, we bring them to the light, and we do all we can to address them.” – U.S. President, Joseph Biden Jr. 
  • Over a dozen states and more than 130 local governments have chosen to not celebrate Columbus Day altogether or replace it with Indigenous Peoples Day. Many states celebrate both. Eleven U.S. states celebrate Indigenous People Day or a holiday of a similar name via proclamation, while 10 others treat it as an official holiday. The 10 states that observe the holiday via proclamation are Arizona, California, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin, plus Washington, D.C. Sign petitions
  • And the 10 that officially celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota and Vermont.See if your local communities are celebrating and if there’s an event you can attend


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