Indigenous People Day
Date When Celebrated : Second Monday in October
On the second Monday in October, we celebrate Indigenous People Day. It is often referred to as Native American Day. Indigenous People Day is related to another Native American Day, celebrated on the fourth Friday in November. To further complicate matters, what is the definition of indigenous people and native Americans? Are they the same? Who exactly are we celebrating and honoring, and why? Are you among the many people who are confused!? Read on.........
Definition of Indigenous versus Native People:
Let's understand the definitions first, so we clearly understand who we are referring to, and to whom we are celebrating and honoring. Indigenous people are those who first populated an area before anyone else. Natives are defined as people who have lived in an area since birth. Yes, you are native to where you were born. It became confusing when the term "American Indian", considered to be offensive, was changed to "Native American". However most, if not all of us, are comfortable using the term "Native American", to refer to people who are indigenous to the United States.
Whew!. I'm sure glad that definition is out of the way.
Now let's get a better understanding of some conflicting holidays:
Native American Day - Originated in the state of California, this day has been around since 1939. It wasn't until 1977, that Indigenous People Day began to take root. Often also called "Native American Day", it is more widespread, with international meaning than the original Native American Day. More on Native American Day
Columbus Day - This holiday was originated in 1972, to honor and celebrate Christopher Columbus, who was the first person to discover America. Over the past few decades, many have come to the realization that Columbus wasn't the first person, not even the first European to land in, and "discover" America. Many say he did not even discover America, as in 1492 he did not land on the mainland of the American continent. It also became widely recognized that Europeans often came as conquerors, and worse. More on Columbus Day
Leif Erikson Day - Around 1002 A.D. Leif Erikson from Greenland, a European country, sailed down the eastern coast of North America as far as New Foundland, and his crew spent the winter there. While has was the first European to come to America, he was not the first. Indigenous people.... Native Americans.... were already there. More on Leif Erikson Day
All of this leads us to today.... Indigenous People Day
Efforts to recognize, celebrate and protect indigenous people began in 1977. This occurred at a United Nations Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations. It was worldwide in scope. In the U.S., the effort has steadily grown, partially to downplay or even eliminate Columbus Day. Now, dozens of cities and states in the U.S, recognize Indigenous People Day. Some, not all, have used this holiday in place of Columbus Day.
This day is used to honor and celebrate indigenous people, those very first settlers of a region. Who were the original inhabitants of your city or town? Do you know what tribe they belonged to? Are they still in your area? Today is a great day to learn more about them. Your local library or town historian are great sources for this information.
Schools, libraries, historical societies and local government should use this day to provide educational programs, lectures and exhibits on the indigenous people who first lived and worked the land in your area.
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