Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day
As a society, we are striving to move towards understanding and welcoming each other’s cultures. This step forward and this nationwide step towards celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a terrific benefit for our developing children, as they learn to celebrate everyone’s differences. However, throughout history, there have been policies preventing Indigenous people from fully expressing themselves. Such policies sought to assimilate them into one culture. They sought to eliminate their heritage simply because it was different.
Today, we recognize the critical role the Indigenous community had and has in shaping our society. It acknowledges the oppression they faced since the first colonists’ arrival and their strength through all of it. Learn about the history of this holiday and share it with your little one!
History and Importance
Indigenous Peoples’ Day, officially recognized by President Joe Biden in 2021, is celebrated on the second Monday of October. Many states, such as Alaska, New Mexico, and Oregon, had previously observed the holiday due to their large Indigenous populations. But what about Columbus Day?
Columbus Day was also observed on the same day. However, when proclaiming it as a national holiday, there was a disregard for the feelings of the Indigenous community. Christopher Columbus was an Italian explorer who arrived in the Americas in 1492. Due to the violent history that ensued, celebrating this day’s meaning no longer felt appropriate. As Jonathan Nez, President of the Navajo Nation said, “Transforming Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day will encourage young Navajos to have pride in the place and people they come from and the beauty they hold within.”
Current Issues the Indigenous Community Faces
To this day, this community still struggles with discrimination, violence, and health issues. Additionally, the displacement of this community is still happening due to public and private drilling projects.
How to Celebrate
An important message from this day is to not only celebrate the culture of Indigenous people but also to understand and learn their history. Unfortunately, history textbooks in the United States frequently fail to mention the maltreatment of these groups and the brush over the colonists’ actions. Thus, one way to celebrate this day is to read books and accounts by Indigenous people to preserve their culture.
Other things you can do to celebrate this day include:
Reading children’s books written by Indigenous authors.
Watching webinars to learn more about traditions and history to share with your little one.
Supporting local indigenous-owned businesses.
Try making a traditional meal and learn why they use specific ingredients and any history associated with the dish.
Creating your own storytelling stones at home and learn about the importance of oral storytelling in the Indigenous community.