Indigenous Peoples' Day

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Indigenous Peoples' Day
Observed by Various states and municipalities in the Americas
Type Historical
Significance A day in honor of Native Americans
Date Second Monday in October (observed in the United States)
2015 date October 12  (2015-10-12)
2016 date October 10  (2016-10-10)
2017 date October 9  (2017-10-09)
2018 date October 8  (2018-10-08)
Frequency Annual

Indigenous Peoples' Day[1] (also known as Native American Day) is a holiday celebrated in various localities in the United States. It began as a counter-celebration to Columbus Day, promoting Native American culture and commemorating the history of Native American peoples. The celebration began in Berkeley, California, through the International Indian Treaty Council, and Denver, Colorado, as a protest against Columbus Day, which is listed as a federal holiday in the United States, but is not observed as a state holiday in every state.[2] Indigenous Peoples' Day is usually held on the second Monday of October, coinciding with the federal observance of Columbus Day.[3]


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.[4] 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 year to promote "continental unity" and "liberation." [5]

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,[6] which advocated the notion that Columbus was responsible for genocide of indigenous people.[7][8]

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 "Indigenous Peoples' Day" beginning in 1992[9] to protest the historical conquest of North America by Europeans, and to call attention to the demise of Native American people and culture[10] through disease, warfare, massacre, and forced assimilation. Performances were scheduled that day for Get Lost (Again) Columbus, an opera by a Native-American composer.[11] Berkeley has celebrated Indigenous Peoples' Day ever since.[12] Beginning in 1993, Berkeley has held an annual pow wow and festival on the day.[6]

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 led to the colonization of America by Spanish conquistadors, or due to controversy over the legacy of Columbus.[13] Two other California cities, Sebastopol and Santa Cruz, now celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day.[13]

At least four states do not celebrate Columbus Day (Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, and South Dakota) with South Dakota officially celebrating Native American Day instead.[3][14][15] Various tribal governments in Oklahoma designate the day "Native American Day", or name the day after their own tribe.[16] In 2013, California considered a bill, AB55, to replace Columbus Day formally with Native American Day.[17]

Virginia celebrates both Columbus Day and Yorktown Victory Day, commemorating a battle in the Revolutionary War.[18] The United States Virgin Islands celebrates "Puerto Rico–Virgin Islands Friendship Day." Hawaii celebrates Discoverers' Day, commemorating the Polynesian discoverers of Hawaii.[19][20] 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,[21] for whom Columbus, believed by many historians to be a native of Italy, was a source of pride.[22] Columbus, Ohio has not sponsored an official Columbus Day parade since the 1990s, in part over controversy over the legacy of Columbus.[13] Other cities and states have canceled celebrations due to lack of interest in the holiday or budget cuts.[13]

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.[23]

In April 2014, the city council of Minneapolis, Minnesota, officially voted to recognize Indigenous Peoples' Day along with Columbus Day.[24][25] This was followed in October by the city council of Seattle, Washington, officially recognizing the holiday.[26]

On April 28, 2014, Red Wing, Minnesota, replaced Columbus Day with Chief Red Wing Day to honor the city's namesake, Hupaha-duta, the Dakota leader known as "Red Wing".[27]

Indigenous Peoples' Day is recognized in place of Columbus Day at Minnesota State University, Mankato, following an official vote of the Minnesota State Student Association in October 2014.

The city council of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, passed a resolution recognizing Indigenous Peoples' Day on December 15, 2014.[28]

The City Commission of Traverse City, Michigan, passed a resolution recognizing Indigenous Peoples' Day on February 2, 2015.[29]

The Town of Newstead and the Village of Akron, New York, and the Akron Central School District, voted to celebrate Indigenous People's Day on Columbus Day in May 2015.[30]

On August 12, 2015, the city council of St. Paul, Minnesota, unanimously passed a resolution recognizing Indigenous Peoples' Day in place of Columbus Day.[31]

The Town and Village of Lewiston, New York, declared the second Monday of October, Indigenous Peoples' Day, on September 28 and October 5, 2015, respectively.[32]

In October 2015, the cities of Anchorage, Alaska, Portland, Oregon, Carrboro, North Carolina and Albuquerque, New Mexico adopted similar resolutions.[33][34][35][36]

In October 2015 Governor Bill Walker of Alaska issued an executive proclamation renaming Columbus Day "Indigenous Peoples' Day."[37]

On October 5, 2015, the City of San Fernando passed a resolution recognizing Indigenous People's Day.[38] The City of San Fernando may be the first city in Los Angeles County to recognize this day.[39]

On December 15, 2015, the City Council of Belfast, Maine approved the renaming of Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples' Day.

On January 5, 2016, the City Council of Durango, Colorado unanimously voted to celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day on the second Monday of October.[40]

Asheville City Council voted unanimously to adopt Indigenous Peoples' Day on January 12, 2016.[41]

On January 28th, 2016 the student body of the University of Utah unanimously voted to support the replacement of the annual holiday "Columbus Day" to "Indigenous Peoples' Day".

On March 1st, 2016, Utah Senate Bill 170 failed to pass the senate with enough votes to adopt Indigenous Peoples Day in the place of Columbus Day.

On March 17th, 2016, the Cornell University Student Assembly voted unanimously to approve a resolution recommending that the provost amend the university's academic calendar to recognize Indigenous Peoples' Day.

On June 6th, 2016 the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts voted unanimously (9-0) to rename Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. [42]

On August 2nd, 2016 the City of Boulder, Colorado voted unanimously (9-0) to establish Indigenous Peoples Day.[43]

Other celebrations[edit]

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.[10] There have also been protests on Columbus Day and against Columbus Day celebrations.[44] They have included mock trials of Christopher Columbus, an insurgent offensive by the Shining Path guerrillas of Peru,[44] and protests and disruptions of Columbus Day parades.[45]

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.[46] In the Philippines, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, as well as various local indigenous towns, designated October 29, 2008, an Indigenous Peoples' Day.[47]

International Day of the World’s Indigenous People[edit]

In 1994, the United Nations declared an International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, but, concerned about upsetting some member nations, chose August 9 instead of the traditional Columbus Day.[48] There has been some annual international celebration on August 9 ever since.[49][50]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sometimes punctuated Indigenous "People's" or "Peoples" Day
  2. ^ "The future of Columbus Day: Can a national holiday survive when detractors say it's nothing to celebrate?". The Week. 
  3. ^ a b Thomas J. Morgan (April 9, 2009). "Brown casts off Columbus, agreeing to forgo celebrating his day". Rhode Island Journal. 
  4. ^ R.S. Sriyananda (August 7, 2009). "Celebrating peoples of Yore". Daily News (Sri Lanka). 
  5. ^ "Declaration of Quito, Ecuador". Indigenous Alliance of the Americas on 500 Years of Resistance. July 1990. 
  6. ^ a b Katlyn Carter (January 10, 2005). "Berkeley Celebrates Indigenous Peoples' Day". Daily Californian. 
  7. ^ "`Indigenous People's Day' to Replace Columbus Celebration". Los Angeles Times. January 11, 1992. 
  8. ^ Michael S. Arnold (October 12, 1992). "Protesters Stop Mock Landing of Columbus". Los Angeles Times. 
  9. ^ "Berkeley Postpones Fate of Columbus Day". San Jose Mercury News. July 17, 1992. 
  10. ^ a b Roger Petterson (October 13, 1992). "Columbus Day Stirs Debate Across America". Associated Press. 
  11. ^ James Barron (October 12, 1992). "He's the Explorer/Exploiter You Just Have to Love/Hate". New York Times. 
  12. ^ Richard C. Paddock (January 13, 2008). "UC Berkeley's bones of contention". Los Angeles Times. 
  13. ^ a b c d Conor Dougherty and Sudeep Reddy (October 10, 2009). "Is Columbus Day Sailing Off the Calendar". Wall Street Journal. 
  14. ^ "South Dakota Codified Laws". 
  15. ^ "Chapter 187 — Holidays; Standard of Time; Commemorations". State of Oregon. Oregon Legislative Website. Retrieved October 13, 2013. 
  16. ^ Clifton Adcock (October 13, 2008). "Holiday not celebrated by tribes: American Indians see Columbus Day as a reminder of harsh treatment ages ago". Tulsa World. 
  17. ^ "Columbus Day To Native American Day? CA Assemblyman Roger Hernandez Introduces Bill AB 55". The Huffington Post. Retrieved October 12, 2015. 
  18. ^ "LIS > Code of Virginia > 2.2-3300". Retrieved October 12, 2008. 
  19. ^ "Hawaii Revised Statutes, Section 8-1.5". Retrieved July 12, 2009. 
  20. ^ "State Observed Holidays - Department of Human Resources Development". Archived from the original on September 20, 2008. Retrieved October 12, 2008. 
  21. ^ Allen R. Myerson (January 4, 1998). "Festivity's Not Hot; There Went the Holidays. Whoopee.". New York Times. 
  22. ^ Ken Garcia (October 7, 2000). "Indigenous Idiocy Snubs Italians But ex-Columbus Day event flourishes in S.F.". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  23. ^ "Indigenous Peoples' Day Sunrise Gathering, Alcatraz Island, October 14th 2013". 
  24. ^ "Minneapolis to Mark Indigenous Peoples' Day as Alternative to Columbus". 
  25. ^ "StarTribune - Print Page". Retrieved October 12, 2015. 
  26. ^ Mon, Kelton Sears (October 6, 2014). "Seattle Sends Columbus Sailing as City Council Unanimously Passes 'Indigenous Peoples' Day'". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved October 7, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Columbus Day to become Chief Red Wing Day". Retrieved October 12, 2015. 
  28. ^ Rosemore, Lisa (December 17, 2014). "GR Council votes to abolish police commission". Grand Rapids Herald-Review. Retrieved October 1, 2015. 
  29. ^ "Traverse City approves Indigenous Peoples Day". Detroit Free Press. February 4, 2015. Retrieved October 1, 2015. 
  30. ^ "Newstead prepares for its first Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday". Retrieved October 12, 2015. 
  31. ^ "St. Paul council passes resolution renaming Columbus Day". 
  32. ^ "Village of Lewiston celebrating both Indigenous Peoples Day and Columbus Day on Monday". Niagara Gazette. Retrieved October 12, 2015. 
  33. ^ Klint, Chris. "Mayor opens AFN Elders and Youth with ceremonial renaming of Columbus Day in Anchorage". Alaska Dispatch News. Retrieved 12 October 2015. 
  34. ^ "City of Portland to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day". 
  35. ^ "Carrboro declares "Indigenous Peoples' Day"". 
  36. ^ "ABQ City Council Votes to Recognize Indigenous Peoples Day". 
  37. ^ "Alaska Renames Columbus Day 'Indigenous Peoples Day'". 
  38. ^ "City of San Fernando October 5 Agenda" (PDF). 
  39. ^ "News | Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians". Retrieved 2015-10-13. 
  40. ^ {{cite web url =}}
  41. ^ "Asheville City Council Adopts Indigenous Peoples' Day". 
  42. ^ "Cambridge City Council meeting - June 6, 2016 - AGENDA". Retrieved 2016-06-08. 
  43. ^ "Boulder to celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day on Columbus Day each year". Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  44. ^ a b Sam Stanton (October 9, 1992). "Columbus Feted Despite His Fall from Grace". McClatchey News Service. 
  45. ^ Keith Coffman, Columbus Day protest in Denver leads to arrests, Reuters, October 6, 2007.
  46. ^ Mario Osava (April 16, 2009). "Dispossessed Demand Land, Health, Justice". Inter Press Service. 
  47. ^ Nony Basco (November 1, 2008). "Panay-Bukidnon celebrates Indigenous Peoples' Day". ABS-CBN News. 
  48. ^ Dag Hammarskjöld Library: International Day of the World’s Indigenous People Archived November 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  49. ^ "Low Health Standards Highlighted On Indigenous Peoples' Day". News Room America. August 9, 2009. 
  50. ^ "World Indigenous Day celebrated in Khagrachhari". The Daily Star. August 9, 2009. 

External links[edit]