Jacqueline Pata, Director of the National Congress of American Indians, tells us why she is celebrating Indigenous People’s Day today… instead of Columbus Day. It’s an excellent article, and contains many links to online sources that may help fill the gaps in our grasp of Native American history.
“The second Monday in October is best known as Columbus Day, a celebration of the explorer who purportedly discovered America after sailing from Spain in 1492. Informed Americans now know millions of people were living in thriving societies with complex governments and cultures across the entire American continent long before Christopher Columbus arrived. These indigenous nations constitute the true origin story of America, and they are the ones Americans should be honoring. That’s why I’m celebrating indigenous people on Monday—not Christopher Columbus—and you should too.
What we celebrate as Americans reveals our character as a country. If America truly is the land of the free, we should celebrate those who have persevered to liberate themselves. As a member of the Raven/Sockeye Clan of the Tlingit Tribe (pronounced KLING-get) of Alaska and executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, I know it’s long past time to set the record straight and right this historical wrong. So on Monday, let’s all pay tribute to the rich histories, vibrant cultures, and enduring resilience of the first Americans by celebrating Indigenous People’s Day…”
~ Jacqueline Pata
Happy Indigenous People’s Day!