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Daily News Blog

10
Oct

Honoring Indigenous Peoples This Day, 2022

(Beyond Pesticides, October 10, 2022) The National Museum of the American Indian, a part of the Smithsonian Institution, sits on the National Mall in Washington, DC and as a part of its history program is commemorating Indigenous Peoples’ Day on October 10. This year, President Biden, while commemorating Columbus Day, issued the second Presidential Proclamation on Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The National Museum of the American Indian marks the day with an effort to teach the true history of the United States. This history is introduced on the Museum’s website with the following:

Unlearning Columbus Day Myths: Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day
“Many students learn the phrase, “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue”. But Columbus was not the first foreign explorer to land in the Americas. Neither he nor those that came before him discovered America—because Indigenous Peoples have populated the Western Hemisphere for tens of thousands of years. European contact resulted in devastating loss of life, disruption of tradition, and enormous loss of lands for Indigenous Peoples in the Americas. It is estimated that in the 130 years following first contact, Native America lost 95 percent of its population.”

“Indigenous Peoples of the Western Hemisphere immediately experienced enslavement and theft of resources by the explorers turned settlers. Colonies created by the Portuguese, Spanish, French, Dutch, and English grew throughout the Americas and increasingly encroached upon Native lives and lands. Warfare, enslavement, and forced relocation disrupted and altered the lives of Indigenous Peoples in the Americas. Celebrating Columbus and other explorers like him dismisses the devastating losses experienced by Indigenous Peoples of the Western Hemisphere in the past and the ongoing effects of colonialism today.”

“Indigenous Peoples are still here. Contemporary Native Americans have led numerous movements to advocate for their own rights. Native people continue to fight to maintain the integrity and viability of Indigenous societies. American Indian history is one of cultural persistence, creative adaptation, renewal, and resilience. Native Peoples, students, and allies are responsible for official celebrations of Indigenous Peoples’ Day in such states as Maine, Oregon, Louisiana, New Mexico, Iowa, and Washington, DC. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is celebrated on the second Monday of October and recognizes the resilience and diversity of Indigenous Peoples in the United States.”

“We promote including Indigenous perspectives, like those of the Taíno Peoples, to provide a more complete narrative when teaching about Columbus. We encourage students to advocate for Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a replacement for Columbus Day in their school, city, state, and beyond.”

Fenway Community Health Center on Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Fenway Community Health Center in Boston, Massachusetts eliminated Columbus Day as an organizational holiday, replacing it with a floating holiday that individual staff can use for a religious or cultural observance/occasion or other purpose of their choosing. This step was taken in August 2020 as part of its broad organizational commitment to “racial equity in everything we do and to work to undo disparities and inequities that exist. Fenway Health explains that its mission “advocates for and delivers innovative, equitable, accessible health care, supportive services, and transformative research and education. It also centers LGBTQIA+ people, BIPOC [Black, indigenous, People of Color] individuals, and other underserved communities to enable our local, national, and global neighbors to flourish.” As Fenway Health says, “This day is a time to honor and celebrate the histories, cultures, and contributions of Native American people in the United States. It is also a time to acknowledge and reflect upon the grave mistreatment of Indigenous people throughout U.S. history.”

A Proclamation on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, 2022, The White House

When the first presidential proclamation on Indigenous Peoples’ Day was issued in 2021 (see 2022 Proclamation below), it said, “For generations, Federal policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures. Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples’ resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society. We also recommit to supporting a new, brighter future of promise and equity for Tribal Nations — a future grounded in Tribal sovereignty and respect for the human rights of Indigenous people in the Americas and around the world.”

2022 Presidential Proclamation
On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we honor the sovereignty, resilience, and immense contributions that Native Americans have made to the world; and we recommit to upholding our solemn trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribal Nations, strengthening our Nation-to-Nation ties.

For centuries, Indigenous Peoples were forcibly removed from ancestral lands, displaced, assimilated, and banned from worshiping or performing many sacred ceremonies.  Yet today, they remain some of our greatest environmental stewards.  They maintain strong religious beliefs that still feed the soul of our Nation.  And they have chosen to serve in the United States Armed Forces at a higher rate than any other group.  Native peoples challenge us to confront our past and do better, and their contributions to scholarship, law, the arts, public service, and more continue to guide us forward.

I learned long ago that Tribal Nations do better when they make their own decisions.  That is why my Administration has made respect for Tribal sovereignty and meaningful consultation with Tribal Nations the cornerstone of our engagement and why I was proud to restore the White House Council on Native American Affairs.  To elevate Indigenous voices across our Government, I appointed Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Interior, the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary, along with more than 50 other Native Americans now in significant roles across the executive branch.

My Administration is also directly delivering for Native communities — creating jobs, providing critical services, and restoring and preserving sacred Tribal lands.  We have made the biggest investment in Indian Country in history, securing billions for pandemic recovery, infrastructural improvements, and climate change resilience, and we are working together with Tribal Nations to end the scourge of violence against Indigenous women and girls.

These efforts are a matter of dignity, justice, and good faith.  But we have more to do to help lift Tribal communities from the shadow of our broken promises, to protect their right to vote, and to help them access other opportunities that their ancestors were long denied.  On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we celebrate indigenous history and our new beginning together, honoring Native Americans for shaping the contours of this country since time immemorial.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 10, 2022, as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.  I call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.  I also direct that the flag of the United States be displayed on all public buildings on the appointed day in honor of our diverse history and the Indigenous peoples who contribute to shaping this Nation. 

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventh day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-seventh.

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