Monday was Indigenous Peoples Day (formerly Columbus Day), and more US cities adopted the official change! Now Indigenous Peoples Day will took place in at least nine cities across the United States, including in Albuquerque, N.M., Anadarko, Okla., Portland, Ore., St. Paul, Minn., and Olympia, Wash. The state of Alaska officially changed the day, with Governor Bill Walker stating: “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. 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.”
Indigenous Peoples Day began as a counter-celebration to Columbus Day, promoting Native American culture and commemorating the history of Native American peoples. Activists and supporters of the change say that Columbus Day overlooks the horrendous violences that colonialism caused, including war, disease, enslavement, discrimination, social cleansing, and landgrabs. Now the day is of honor and celebration instead of the Italian explorers so called “discovery” of the new world.
The cities to join the growing number of local governments making the change across the country may be a big push toward more joining next year. Artwork reflecting thoughts and ideas on this social change have been created around the country. Local San Franciscan artist, make believe, pasted up a couple new pieces last night in honor of the change happening. He states: “One of several pasteups I made to celebrate and honor the history and contributions indigenous peoples from around the world have shared with all of us. The Bay Area has a strong connection with the movement, as the first city to officially change the day was Berkeley in 1992. In order to move toward a more dignified future we must walk, ask, learn, share and accompany one another with empathy!”