You remember when school would be let out for Columbus Day on October 12? Well, the history of the colonizing of the United States of America by Christopher Columbus has—finally!—recently been recognized by the United States in the last couple of decades. The national holiday is being replaced by many states every year, now being known as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, in honor of the Native tribes that were already living in America pre-Columbus.
According to CNN’s Willingham, States like Michigan, Washington, D.C., Wisconsin, Louisiana, Oregon, New Mexico, and a handful of others “have chosen to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day”(2). Columbus Day has always been protested by Native Americans, since it signifies the genocide of their people and the colonization of their land. Imagine being forced off your own property by strange travelers, killed because they think that you are dangerous to others, and forced to celebrate it!(1) Indigenous Peoples’ Day was first suggested in 1977, according to Smithsonian Magazine’s Zotigh and Gokey, by “participants at the United Nations International Conference on Discrimination against Indigenous Populations in the Americas”(3). However, the magazine also stated that the Columbus Day was first changed in 1990 by South Dakota, followed by Hawaii—their indigenous people, “Polynesian navigators,” are recognized by Discovers’ Day (Zotigh & Gokey). Two years later in California, Berkley became the first city to change the holiday name to Indigenous Peoples’ Day(3). We do not see another state change the name until the late 2010s.
The Native American communities are not seen or heard from very much on news outlets, and the change of holiday is the start of their recognition. They currently do not receive much financial and medical support from the government, especially during the COVID-19 year. Discovering various social media accounts on different platforms, mostly Twitter and Instagram, are the only methods in which I hear about the struggles that Native American communities have in gaining medical assistance and supplies for their people. The media users mainly post helpful, simple links through the website Carrd (card.co), which is getting more popular. Other national and global forms of media are also recognizing the growing health problem in the Native American societies across North America. In fact, Teen Vogue released an article on their website, detailing methods for helping those communities who are experiencing Coronavirus affects. TEWA Women United and the Canadian government also released methods to help.
For more information and ways to help, here are the mentioned resources:
- Fadel, L. (2019, October 14). Columbus Day Or Indigenous Peoples’ Day? https://www.npr.org/2019/10/14/769083847/columbus-day-or-indigenous-peoples-day
- Willingham, A. (2019, October 14). These states and cities are ditching Columbus Day to observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead. https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/22/us/indigenous-peoples-day-columbus-day-trnd/index.html
- Zotigh, D. & Gokey, R. (2019, October 11). Indigenous Peoples’ Day: Rethinking How We Celebrate American History. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/blogs/national-museum-american-indian/2019/10/11/indigenous-peoples-day-2019/
- Wicker, J. (2020, April 3). How to Support Indigenous Organizers Fighting Coronavirus in Native American Communities. https://www.teenvogue.com/story/indigenous-organizers-fighting-coronavirus-native-american-communities
- TEWA Women United. (2020, April 22). COVID-19: How to Help Native Communities. https://tewawomenunited.org/2020/04/covid-19-how-to-help-native-communities
- Government of Canada. (2020, October 2). Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Indigenous communities. https://www.sac-isc.gc.ca/eng/1581964230816/1581964277298