“Since time immemorial, American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians have built vibrant and diverse cultures – safeguarding land, language, spirit, knowledge and tradition across generations,” states an October 8, 2021 presidential proclamation. “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.”
This proclamation made Indigenous Peoples’ Day a national holiday, for the first time, in 2021.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a day to honor and celebrate America’s first inhabitants.
It took decades for America to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a national holiday. The holiday was originally proposed in 1977 at a conference intended to address discrimination against Native Americans. More than a decade later, in 1990, South Dakota recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day and stopped celebrating Columbus Day.
Throughout the next three decades, states and communities made the switch to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. “It’s become a trend,” commented Baley Champagne, a tribal citizen of the United Houma Nation who petitioned the Louisiana governor to change their state’s holiday. “It’s about celebrating people instead of thinking about somebody who actually caused genocide on a population or tried to cause the genocide of an entire population. By bringing Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we’re bringing awareness that we’re not going to allow someone like that to be glorified into a hero, because of the hurt that he caused to Indigenous people of America.”
What are the best ways to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day?
- Learn more about where you live. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a great day to learn more about the long history of our land and the people who have lived here. This Native Land map allows you to search by city or zip code to learn about the land where you reside. Electives was founded in Boston, home of the Pawtucket, sometimes called the Pennacook. Before colonization of America, there were an estimated 12,000 Pawtucket citizens in New England.
- Join the celebration at an Indigenous Peoples’ Day event near you. A simple Google search should help you find a list of Indigenous Peoples’ Day events. As you search, be careful to select an event that celebrates Indigenous people. Events just celebrating the day off miss the point of the holiday.
- Donate to an Indigenous-led nonprofit. Around the country, there are nonprofits stepping in to serve the needs of Indigenous people. However, according to Native Americans in Philanthropy, Indigenous-led nonprofits receive only 0.4% of philanthropic funds. That means even a small donation can have a big impact.
- Amplify Indigenous voices. One of the best ways to learn about the Indigenous people of today is by hearing from them directly. Electives offers the perfect mix of quality, quantity and diversity of content, instructors and experiences to help you celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day and many other holidays throughout the year.
Should we still celebrate Columbus Day at work?
According to Pew Research in 2021, “Columbus Day, the second Monday in October, is one of the most inconsistently celebrated U.S. holidays.” Even after the proclamation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Columbus Day remains a federal holiday in 2022, but Pew Research notes that Columbus Day “seems to be fading as a widely observed holiday.”
According to an NPR article, Columbus Day, which became a federal holiday in 1934, “was first founded as a way to appreciate the mistreatment of Italian Americans.” Columbus Day became a federal holiday in 1934. Within a 2021 presidential proclamation about Columbus Day – made the same day as the Indigenous Peoples’ Day proclamation – President Biden said, “Today, let this day be one of reflection – on America’s spirit of exploration, on the courage and contributions of Italian Americans throughout the generations, on the dignity and resilience of Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities, and on the work that remains ahead of us to fulfill the promise of our nation for all.”
So, going back to the question asked above… should we still celebrate Columbus Day at work? It depends. At Electives, we encourage you to create a community in which everyone feels respected and included. If you're not sure what that looks like at your company, ask your people.
Does sourcing DEI instructors and content feel time-consuming and anxiety-producing?
Electives can help!
With Electives, you don’t have to choose between quality and quantity. Our DEI library includes classes appropriate for every DEI program and initiative — from the most sophisticated to those just starting out. Every DEI class creates a safe space to start DEI conversations and dive into the most complex and challenging topics and truths.
With an eye toward action, our DEI classes lay foundations while supporting DEI strategy and allyship at the individual, team and company-wide levels. And, because we have niche-topic classes taught by a diverse community of instructors, our DEI classes are also perfect for holidays like Indigenous People’s Day or for employee resource groups (ERGs) that want to address specific topics by bringing in relevant instructors.