Indigenous People’s Day brings much-needed cultural awareness

Jastasha Hudson, Echo reporter

Ask any eighth-grader to name the first Europeans to settle in America, and the answer is likely to be Christopher Columbus. 

Having discovered the Americas and created new trade routes, Christopher Columbus was regarded as a heroic explorer. In celebration of Italian American heritage during widespread persecution of Italian immigrants in the late 19th century, Columbus Day began as a federal holiday celebrated on the second Monday in October. 

However,  in recent generations, controversy has erupted over whether to commemorate the Italian navigator’s landing in America in 1492. In addition, many condemn the holiday for heralding the oppression of Native Americans and Indigenous people. 

Sadly, many Americans ignore that Indigenous people have been plagued by European diseases, driven from their land as the United States expanded, and sterilized in large quantities. As a result, Columbus Day has been a painful day for the Native community. These films negatively affect Indigenous peoples and glorify the violent history of 500 years of colonial oppression by European explorers and settlers in the United States, a record that many Native and Indigenous peoples say still hurts them and still has its ramifications today. 

In attempts to honor Native Americans, many states and cities have commemorated their lives and cultures by celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Days. 

Native Americans worldwide celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day to recognize and honor their beautiful cultures, traditions, and lives. By celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day, one draws attention to the trauma, broken treaties, broken promises, and erasure that followed. The Indigenous people of the Americas were self-sufficient, successful, and thriving thousands of years before Columbus arrived on the scene. 

It is important to stand with Indigenous peoples and support the nomination of candidates committed to reviving, investing, and uplifting communities of color. If you are looking for ways to celebrate Indigenous people today or showing more respect to that community, here are some ways to help:

  1. Become familiar with the Indigenous greetings 
  2. Consider investing in indigenous-owned businesses
  3. Visit a museum and learn about the history of Native Americans
  4. Learn about different powwow dances or throat singing
  5. Learn what tribe land you live on
  6. Provide support to organizations led by Indigenous peoples who are working to uphold Indigenous rights 
  7. Take Action by joining the Anti-Mascot Movement