This coming Monday is Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Although very few people know that this event has existed for nearly forty years, the movement to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day has gained considerable traction in the public consciousness in recent years. The purpose of this deliberate holiday swap is to draw attention away from myths about Columbus, and to focus it on the slavery and genocide of Native peoples that started with Columbus in 1492. To honor our ancestors and unborn, we choose to celebrate the survival of America’s first peoples.
If you want to create Indigenous Peoples’ Day traditions of your own, here are some suggestions from the Bioneers Indigeneity Program team.
- Learn more about Indigenous contributions to America: Check out Chief Oren Lyons describing the influence of Iroquois political organization on the origins of the US Constitution in this 2003 speech on the Bioneers Mainstage. Our published collection of Indigenous faculty talks, Original Instructions – Indigenous Teachings For A Sustainable Future, remains an “invaluable resource of Indigenous wisdom” according to Gregory Cajete (Tewa), Ph.D
- Help others understand what it means to be Native American: If you are Native American, reach out to a non-Native acquaintance and tell them about what it means to you to be Indigenous. If you are non-Native, you can learn more about your Indigenous neighbors by joining Native events that invite an open audience. Hint: all of the Indigenous Forum events at the 2016 Bioneers Conference are open to all to share in respectful exchange. Our Aboriginal Truth and Reconciliation Panel discusses what it takes to right the wrongs committed by a nation state against First Peoples.
- Take part in the healing: In addition to learning and talking about these issues, you might take a moment of silence to honor those who died under “doctrine of discovery” ideology. For Bay Area locals, we recommend joining the October 10, Indigenous Peoples’ Sunrise Gathering on Alcatraz Island to commemorate the 1969-71 occupation of Alcatraz by the “Indians of all Tribes.”