By Jenny Horn
Indigenous Peoples’ Day has garnered more support, celebration, and recognition in recent years due to the increased awareness of the countless atrocities committed by colonizers against Native American and Indigenous communities across what eventually became the United States of America. Often acknowledged as a replacement for Columbus Day, it’s important to learn why today’s acknowledgement and celebration of the Indigenous community is crucial in moving forward in solidarity.
The history behind the controversial Columbus Day is often glossed over and misrepresented. Christopher Columbus committed serious, intense atrocities against indigenous individuals and communities amongst his explorations. He enslaved Native communities, enabled and even encouraged the sexual assault of Indigenous women and girls, and introduced the Western slave trade to the regions he encountered, amongst a plethora of other gross treatments and practices.
Thus, Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a day to recognize Indigenous people and the extensive contributions they’re made to history and today’s society, as well as to mourn those lost to genocide and Western colonization. Native Americans were here in America long before European settlers showed up, and it is the many Indigenous communities we have to thank today for the early and continued cultivation of our country and land. In 1977, the United Nations Internaitonal Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas proposed that Indigenous Peoples Day replace Columbus Day, and here we are today.
Recognized the same day as Columbus Day each year – the second Monday in October, this year’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day takes place on October 10. While the day is more closely associated with recognition and mourning than general celebration, you can support today by educating yourself and others on the history of the many Indigenous and Native American cultures, contributions, and histories.
If you want to provide further support, you can contribute to other charities and causes that support Indigenous people and communities. See the list below for our recommendations:
- The American Indian College Fund provides scholarships for Native American students.
- American Indian Policy Center provides government leaders and policymakers with accurate legal and historical information.
- American Indigenous Business Leaders support the education and development of indigenous-owned businesses.
- Association of American Indian Affairs provides aid in drafting integral legislation for indigenous people, including the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and the Tribal Governmental Tax Status Act and the Indian Child Welfare Act.
- The First Nations Development Institute supports economic development and education for Native communities.
- Native American Heritage Association provides financial aid to those in need living on reservations in South Dakota.
- Native American Rights Fund fights to preserve Native American rights and tribal resources.
- National Indian Child Care Association provides tribal child care and early childhood programs.
- Partnership With Native Americans aids those living in poverty on reservations.
- Women Empowering Women for Indigenous Nations provides networking, professional and career opportunities for Native American women.