The Recognition of Indigenous People’s Day 2022

The Recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day 2022

Faith Spalding, Editor-In-Chief

Yesterday was Indigenous People’s Day. Formerly celebrated as Columbus Day, it has become a day of reflection. For the second year, President Biden has acknowledged today not as a day of celebration of colonization that ultimately led to the colonization, enslavement, exploitation, and deaths of millions, but instead as a day to celebrate Indigenous people’s achievements despite the harm inflicted by generations of racist government policies and colonization.

The idea for Indigenous Peoples day was first proposed in 1977 at a United Nations conference that was held to address discrimination against indigenous people in the United States. South Dakota was the first state to adopt Indigenous peoples day in place of Columbus day. However, most important is the newfound recognition of Indigenous People’s day. President Biden is the first sitting U.S. president to acknowledge Indigenous People’s Day as a national holiday, with hundreds of other cities following suit.

President Biden issued the proclamation a year ago in 2021, however for many, it has taken far too long for progress. Columbus’s victory discovering “the new world,” was plagued by the use of violence, slavery, conversion to christianity and the introduction of disease to the America’s. Following Columbus’s journey, trade was soon established between European and the Americas for imports and exports, and later the slave trade, which functioned off of the systematic, violent exploitation of people. The fact of the matter is, indigenous people in the United States don’t want to celebrate a man who was responsible for genocide, setting off a centuries long chain reaction of continued colonization.

Although it may seem like a mere name change, the adoption of Indigneous People’s Day signals a growing social change and understanding on the impact of colonization and its consequences. Although no reparations can truly be made to Indigneous communities in the U.S. and around the world, social consciousness and education can continue creating positive change.