Indigenous People's Day
|Indigenous Peoples' Day|
|Observed by||Various states and municipalities in the Americas|
|Significance||A day in honor of Native Americans|
|Date||Second Monday in October (observed in the United States)|
|2012 date||October 8|
|2013 date||October 14|
|2014 date||October 13|
|2015 date||October 12|
Indigenous Peoples' Day (also known as Native American Day) is a holiday celebrated in various localities in the United States, begun as a counter-celebration to Columbus Day. The purpose of the day is to promote Native American culture and commemorate the history of Native American peoples. The celebration began in Berkeley, California and Denver, Colorado as an alternative to Columbus Day, which is listed as a federal holiday in the United States but is not observed as a state holiday in every state. Indigenous Peoples' Day is usually held on the second Monday of October, coinciding with federal observance of Columbus Day.
The idea of replacing Columbus Day with a day celebrating the indigenous people of North America first arose in 1977 from the International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas, sponsored by the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1990, at the First Continental Conference on 500 Years of Indian Resistance in Quito, Ecuador in July 1990, representatives of Indian groups throughout the Americas agreed that they would mark 1992, the 500th anniversary of the first of the voyages of Christopher Columbus, as a day to promote "continental unity" and "liberation".
After the conference, attendees from Northern California organized to plan protests against the "Quincentennial Jubilee" that had been organized by the United States Congress for the San Francisco Bay Area on Columbus Day, 1992 to include, among other things, sailing replicas of Columbus' ships under the Golden Gate Bridge and reenacting their "discovery" of America. The delegates formed the Bay Area Indian Alliance, and in turn, the "Resistance 500" task force, which advocated the notion that Columbus was responsible for genocide of Indian people.
In 1992 the group convinced the city council of Berkeley, California to declare October 12, a "Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People", and 1992 the "Year of Indigenous People", and to implement related programs in schools, libraries, and museums. The city symbolically renamed Columbus Day to "Indigenous Peoples' Day" beginning in 1992 to protest the historical conquest of North America by Europeans, and to call attention to the demise of Native American people and culture through disease, warfare, massacre, and forced assimilation. Performances were scheduled that day for Get Lost (Again) Columbus, an opera by a Native-American composer. Berkeley has celebrated Indigenous Peoples' Day ever since. Beginning in 1993, Berkeley has held an annual pow wow and festival on the day.
In the years after Berkeley's move, other local governments and institutions have either renamed or canceled Columbus Day, either to celebrate Native Americans, to avoid celebrating actions of Columbus that lead to the colonization of America by Spanish conquistadors, or due to controversy over the legacy of Columbus. Two other California cities, Sebastopol and Santa Cruz, now celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day.
At least four states do not celebrate Columbus Day (Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, and South Dakota) with South Dakota officially celebrating Native American Day instead. Various tribal governments in Oklahoma designate the day "Native American Day", or name the day after their own tribe. In 2013, California considered a bill, AB55, to replace Columbus Day formally with Native American Day.
Virginia celebrates both Columbus Day and Yorktown Victory Day, commemorating a battle in the Revolutionary War. The United States Virgin Islands celebrates "Puerto Rico-Virgin Islands Friendship Day." Hawaii celebrates Discoverer's Day, commemorating the Polynesian discoverers of Hawaii. San Francisco, California and a number of other American cities have either canceled their observances or renamed them "Italian Heritage Day" in honor of Italian Americans, for whom Columbus, believed by many historians to be a native of Italy, was a source of pride. Columbus, Ohio has not sponsored an official Columbus Day parade since the 1990s, in part over controversy over the legacy of Columbus. Other cities and states have canceled celebrations due to lack of interest in the holiday or budget cuts.
Some Native Americans formally celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day instead of Columbus Day. One way this occurs is a sunrise ceremony on Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay.
There have been a number of efforts in the Americas and elsewhere to honor American Indians as part of Columbus Day, or by designating two holidays for the same date. There have also been protests on Columbus Day and against Columbus Day celebrations. They have included mock trials of Christopher Columbus, an insurgent offensive by the Shining Path guerillas of Peru, and protests and disruptions of Columbus Day parades.
Other than the American Columbus Day counter-celebration, there have occasionally been other designations of a similar holiday throughout the world. Brazil celebrates "National Indigenous Peoples' Day" on April 19. In the Philippines, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, as well as various local indigenous towns designated October 29, 2008 an Indigenous Peoples' Day.
International Day of the World’s Indigenous People
In 1994 the United Nations declared a International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, but concerned about upsetting some member nations chose August 9 instead of the traditional Columbus Day. There has been some annual international celebration on August 9 ever since.
- (sometimes punctuated Indigenous "People's" or "Peoples" Day
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