The Push for Indigenous People’s Day


Formerly Known as Columbus Day, this year, October 11, 2021 is being formally celebrated as Indigenous People’s day, by word of President Biden. Although Columbus was a large part of history, it has been recognized that there is not enough recognition for the people that the land was formerly populated by. In order to highlight the importance of the people who thrived on American lands before colonization, today is now being formally recognized as a day for the Indigenous people rather than for those who discovered America.

“Our country was conceived on a promise of equality and opportunity for all people- a promise that, despite the extraordinary progress we have made through the years, we have never fully lived up to,” wrote Biden, in the Proclamation written on October 8, 2021. “That is especially true when it comes to upholding the rights and dignity of the Indigenous people who were here long before colonization of the Americas began.”

However, although Biden has recognized this day in honor of the Indigenous people, the holiday is still not being recognized as a national holiday. People around the country are still celebrating the holiday as Columbus Day. The Indigenous people, however, are looking to receive more recognition for their sacrifices. Indigenous people have suffered through centuries of cultural assimilation and loss of their sacred lands. Biden’s goal of the Proclamation is to recognize the sacrifices the Indigenous people have given for the country and their ongoing struggles, especially in the midst of the global pandemic. 

Columbus Day is a controversial holiday because of the harm that Christopher Columbus caused the Indigenous population. Prior to Colmbus’ arrival to the Americas in 1492, the population of Indigenous tribes was around 60 million- a number reduced to 6 million around a century later. Indigenous natives protest every year around the country in order to gain recognition for their sufferings, in hope to completely eliminate Columbus Day entirely.

Their efforts are seeming to work so far. Several states, among Alaska, Hawaii, and New Mexico have pulled out of recognizing the day as Columbus Day, and are large advocates to pass a new Federal Holiday as “Indigenous People’s Day”. The country is on it’s way there.

If you would like to learn more about the new push for Indigenous People’s Day, there are articles by New York Times and CNN that have covered them professionally.