Indigenous Peoples' Day (United States)

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Indigenous Peoples' Day
Day 286- Indigenous Peoples Day (8084917906).jpg
Celebration in Berkeley, California, 2012
Also calledFirst People's Day or Native American Day
Observed byVarious states and municipalities in the Americas on October 11th, in lieu of Columbus Day
SignificanceA day in honor of Native Indigenous Americans in opposition to the celebration of Columbus Day.
First timeOctober 11, 1992
Related toNational Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada

Indigenous Peoples' Day[1][a] is a holiday in the United States that celebrates and honors indigenous American peoples and commemorates their histories and cultures. It is celebrated across the United States on the second Monday in October, and is an official city and state holiday in various localities. It began as a counter-celebration held on the same day as the U.S. federal holiday of Columbus Day, which honors Italian explorer Christopher Columbus. Some people reject celebrating him, saying that he represents "the violent history of the colonization in the Western Hemisphere".[2]

Indigenous Peoples Day was instituted in Berkeley, California, in 1992, to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Columbus in the Americas on October 12, 1492. Two years later, Santa Cruz, California, instituted the holiday.[3] Starting in 2014, many other cities and states adopted the holiday.[4] In 2021, Joe Biden formally commemorated the holiday with a presidential proclamation, becoming the first U.S. president to do so.[1][5]


In 1977, the International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas, sponsored by the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, began to discuss replacing Columbus Day in the Americas with a celebration to be known as Indigenous Peoples Day.[6][7] Similarly, Native American groups staged a sort of protest in Boston instead of Thanksgiving, which has been celebrated there to mark collaboration between Massachusetts colonists and Native Americans in the first years. In July 1990, at the First Continental Conference on 500 Years of Indian Resistance in Quito, Ecuador, representatives of indigenous people throughout the Americas agreed that they would mark 1992, the 500th anniversary of the first of the voyages of Christopher Columbus, as a year to promote "continental unity" and "liberation".[8]

After the conference, attendees from Northern California organized protests against the "Quincentennial Jubilee" that had been organized by the United States Congress for the San Francisco Bay Area on Columbus Day in 1992.[citation needed] It was to include replicas of Columbus's ships sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge and reenacting their "discovery" of America. The delegates formed the Bay Area Indian Alliance and in turn, the "Resistance 500" task force.[9] It promoted the idea that Columbus's "discovery" of inhabited lands and the subsequent European colonization of them had resulted in the genocide of thousands of indigenous peoples because of the decisions which were made by colonial and national governments.[10][11]

In 1992, the group convinced the city council of Berkeley, California, to declare October 12 as a "Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People" and 1992 as the "Year of Indigenous People". The city implemented related programs in schools, libraries, and museums. The city symbolically renamed Columbus Day as "Indigenous Peoples Day" beginning in 1992 to protest the historical conquest of North America by Europeans, and to call attention to the losses suffered by the Native American peoples and their cultures through diseases, warfare, massacres, and forced assimilation.[12][13] Get Lost (Again) Columbus, an opera by a Native American composer, White Cloud Wolfhawk, was produced that day.[14] Berkeley has celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day ever since.[15] Beginning in 1993, Berkeley has also held an annual pow wow and festival on Indigenous Peoples Day.[9]

In the years following Berkeley's action, other local governments and institutions have either renamed or canceled Columbus Day, either to celebrate Native American history and cultures, to avoid celebrating Columbus and the European colonization of the Americas, or due to raised controversy over the legacy of Columbus.[16] Several other California cities, including Richmond, Santa Cruz, and Sebastopol, now celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day and encourage people to donate to a neighboring tribe and recognize the trauma and pain indigenous peoples have been subjected to by colonizers.[16]

At least twelve states do not celebrate Columbus Day (Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin), as well as Washington, DC; South Dakota officially celebrates Native American Day instead.[3][17][18] Various tribal governments in Oklahoma designate the day as "Native American Day", or have renamed the day after their own tribes.[19] In 2013, the California state legislature considered a bill, AB55, to formally replace Columbus Day with Native American Day but did not pass it.[20] While the California governor has recognized Indigenous Peoples Day, the holiday was eliminated by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 2008-12 California budget crisis.[21] On August 30, 2017, following similar affirmative votes in Oberlin, Ohio,[22] followed later by Bangor, Maine, in the earlier weeks of the same month,[23] the Los Angeles City Council voted in favor of replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.[24] On October 10, 2019, just a few days before Columbus Day would be celebrated in Washington, D.C., the D.C. Council voted to temporarily replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.[25] This bill was led by Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) and must undergo congressional approval to become permanent.[25] Washington D.C., as of May 2023, has yet to have given the permanent legislation to this re-naming.[citation needed]

Other celebrations[edit]

Numerous efforts in North America have honored Native American people as part of Columbus Day, or by designating two holidays for the same date.[12] Especially since Native American activism has increased since the 1960s and 1970s, a variety of protests have been staged against celebrating Columbus Day.[26] These have included mock trials of Christopher Columbus in St. Paul, Minnesota,[27] and protests and disruptions of Columbus Day parades in the United States.[28]

Indigenous peoples in other nations have also lobbied to have holidays established to recognize their contributions and history. In South America, for instance, Brazil celebrates "National Indigenous Peoples Day" on April 19.[29]

In Asia, Taiwan designated August 1 as Indigenous Peoples Day in 2016 under the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen, who announced that the government is committed to promoting the rights of Taiwan's indigenous peoples and enhancing public awareness of their culture and history.[30] In the Philippines, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, as well as various local indigenous towns, designated October 29, 1987, as Indigenous Peoples Day.[31]

Native American Day[edit]

Some states celebrate a separate but similar Native American Day; however, this is observed not on Columbus Day but in September. Those who observe include the states of California and Tennessee. However, as of 2021, the State of California does not actually observe this holiday by closing its government offices, giving its employees paid time off, or encouraging private businesses to do the same in observance.[32] In Washington state it is celebrated the Friday immediately following the fourth Thursday in November.

International Day of the World's Indigenous People[edit]

In 2003, the United Nations declared an International Day of the World's Indigenous People, establishing it on August 9.[33] This international holiday has been celebrated also in various nations.[34][35]

Indigenous Peoples Day observers[edit]

States in the U.S. that celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day or Native American Day instead of or in addition to Columbus Day

The following U.S. states celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day instead of or in addition to Columbus Day.

Adopted 1988[edit]

Adopted 1989[edit]

Adopted 2015[edit]

Adopted 2016[edit]

Adopted 2018[edit]

Adopted 2019[edit]

Adopted 2020[edit]

Adopted 2021[edit]

Criticism and controversy[edit]

Indigenous Peoples' Day has been harshly criticized by conservatives, with the Washington Examiner publishing a column calling for the holiday's end since indigenous peoples attacked and conquered each other's land.[56] Then-President Donald Trump attacked Indigenous Peoples' Day at a campaign rally in Michigan, calling it an example of how "the radical left is eradicating our history".[57]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sometimes unpunctuated Indigenous "Peoples" or incorrectly punctuated "People's" Day
  2. ^ The State of California does not actually observe the holiday by closing its offices, or giving its employees paid time off; nor does it encourage private businesses to close in observation


  1. ^ a b "A Proclamation on Indigenous Peoples' Day, 2021". The White House. October 8, 2021. Retrieved October 8, 2021.
  2. ^ "Goodbye, Columbus. Hello, Indigenous Peoples Day". HISTORY. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Morgan, Thomas J. (April 9, 2009). "Brown casts off Columbus, agreeing to forgo celebrating his day". Rhode Island Journal.
  4. ^ Morgan, Thomas J. (April 9, 2009). "Brown casts off Columbus, agreeing to forgo celebrating his day". Rhode Island Journal.
  5. ^ Delkic, Melina (October 11, 2021). "Indigenous Peoples Day, Explained". The New York Times.
  6. ^ "Indigenous Peoples Day".
  7. ^ R.S. Sriyananda (August 7, 2009). "Celebrating peoples of Yore". Daily News (Sri Lanka). Archived from the original on October 12, 2012. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  8. ^ "Declaration of Quito, Ecuador". Indigenous Alliance of the Americas on 500 Years of Resistance. July 1990.
  9. ^ a b Carter, Katlyn (January 10, 2005). "Berkeley Celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day". Daily Californian.
  10. ^ "'Indigenous Peoples Day' to Replace Columbus Celebration". Los Angeles Times. January 11, 1992.
  11. ^ Arnold, Michael S. (October 12, 1992). "Protesters Stop Mock Landing of Columbus". Los Angeles Times.
  12. ^ a b Petterson, Roger (October 13, 1992). "Columbus Day Stirs Debate Across America". Associated Press. Archived from the original on December 16, 2021. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  13. ^ "In Berkeley, Day for Columbus Is Renamed". The New York Times. The Associated Press. January 12, 1992. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  14. ^ Barron, James (October 12, 1992). "He's the Explorer/Exploiter You Just Have to Love/Hate". The New York Times.
  15. ^ Paddock, Richard C. (January 13, 2008). "UC Berkeley's bones of contention". Los Angeles Times.
  16. ^ a b Dougherty, Conor; Reddy, Sudeep (October 10, 2009). "Is Columbus Day Sailing Off the Calendar". The Wall Street Journal.
  17. ^ "South Dakota Codified Laws".
  18. ^ "Chapter 187 — Holidays; Standard of Time; Commemorations". State of Oregon. Oregon Legislative Website. Retrieved October 13, 2013.
  19. ^ Adcock, Clifton (October 13, 2008). "Holiday not celebrated by tribes: American Indians see Columbus Day as a reminder of harsh treatment ages ago". Tulsa World.
  20. ^ "Columbus Day To Native American Day? CA Assemblyman Roger Hernandez Introduces Bill AB 55". HuffPost. January 10, 2013. Retrieved October 12, 2015.In December 2015 The Belfast, Maine City Council approved a resolution to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day, making it the first city east of the Mississippi to take this historic step. It was first celebrated in October 2016 with a weekend of events planned and produced in full cooperation with our local Wabanaki communities, Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, and Mi'kmaq.
  21. ^ "Efforts Ongoing to Recognize Indigenous Peoples Day as a federal holiday". KQED. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  22. ^ Reid, Melissa (August 21, 2017). "City of Oberlin officially abolishes Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day". WJW (TV). Retrieved August 31, 2017. In a unanimous vote Monday night, Oberlin City Council voted to abolish Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous Peoples Day.
  23. ^ "Bangor Renaming Columbus Day as 'Indigenous Peoples Day'". U.S. News & World Report. August 29, 2017. Retrieved August 31, 2017. One of the biggest cities in Maine is renaming the second Monday in October as "Indigenous Peoples Day" instead of Columbus Day...WMTW-TV reports the Bangor City Council approved the change on Monday. Belfast, Maine, became the first city in the state to make the change in 2015...Bangor officials say in public records that the renamed holiday "will provide an opportunity for our community to recognize and celebrate the Indigenous Peoples of our region." They specifically site the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, Penobscot Indian Nation and the Passamaquoddy tribe.
  24. ^ "LA City Council votes to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day". KABC-TV. August 20, 2017. Retrieved August 31, 2017. The Los Angeles City Council voted on Wednesday to replace the Columbus Day holiday with Indigenous Peoples Day...Councilmembers voted 14-1 to make the second Monday in October a day to commemorate indigenous, aboriginal and native people. It will be a paid holiday for city employees.
  25. ^ a b "Council Votes To Rename Columbus Day To Indigenous Peoples Day In D.C." WAMU. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  26. ^ Stanton, Sam (October 9, 1992). "Columbus Feted Despite His Fall from Grace". McClatchey News Service.
  27. ^ "Mock Trial Jury Convicts Christopher Columbus of Murder, But Not Genocide". AP News. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
  28. ^ Keith Coffman, "Columbus Day protest in Denver leads to arrests", Reuters, October 6, 2007.
  29. ^ Osava, Mario (April 16, 2009). "Dispossessed Demand Land, Health, Justice". Inter Press Service. Archived from the original on March 5, 2012. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  30. ^ "Taiwan designates Aug. 1 as Indigenous Peoples Day". Focus Taiwan CNA. Retrieved August 1, 2020.
  31. ^ Basco, Nony (November 1, 2008). "Panay-Bukidnon celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day". ABS-CBN News.
  32. ^ "State Holidays". State of California. Retrieved October 12, 2021.
  33. ^ "Dag Hammarskjöld Library: International Day of the World's Indigenous People". Archived from the original on November 6, 2010.
  34. ^ "Low Health Standards Highlighted On Indigenous Peoples Day". News Room America. August 9, 2004.
  35. ^ "World Indigenous Day celebrated in Khagrachhari". The Daily Star. August 9, 2009.
  36. ^ "THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF HAWAII". Archived from the original on September 21, 2022. Retrieved October 11, 2022.
  37. ^ Montgomery, David. "In S.D., it's Native Americans' Day, not Columbus Day". Argus Leader.
  38. ^ "Columbus Day renamed Indigenous Peoples Day in Alaska". Alaska Dispatch News. October 12, 2015. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  39. ^ "Indigenous Peoples Day Proclamation" (PDF). October 10, 2016.
  40. ^ "State Of Vermont Indigenous Peoples Day Proclamation" (PDF).
  41. ^ Mettler, Katie (April 20, 2019). "Vermont passes Bill Abolishing Columbus Day in Favor of Indigenous People's Day". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 20, 2019.
  42. ^ Duffy, Molly. "Iowa marks first Indigenous Peoples Day". The Gazette. Retrieved October 11, 2019.
  43. ^ "State Of North Carolina Indigenous Peoples Day Proclamation" (PDF).
  44. ^ "Governor Newsom Issues Proclamation Declaring Indigenous Peoples Day". California Governor. October 14, 2019. Retrieved October 12, 2020.
  45. ^ FOLLEY, ARIS (October 9, 2019). "DC Council votes to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day". The Hill. Retrieved October 9, 2019.
  46. ^ "October 14 proclaimed to be Indigenous Peoples Day in Louisiana". September 16, 2019. Retrieved October 13, 2019.
  47. ^ Seipel, Brooke (April 19, 2019). "Maine bill to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day heads to governor's desk". The Hill. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  48. ^ "Michigan Recognizes Indigenous Peoples Day, But For This State Senator That's Not Enough". National Public Radio WDET.
  49. ^ Folley, Aris (April 3, 2019). "New Mexico officially replaces Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day". The Hill.
  50. ^ "5 things to know about Indigenous Peoples Day in the US". The Oklahoman. Retrieved October 11, 2022.
  51. ^ "WISCONSIN GOVERNOR SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER DECLARING INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY IN STATE". Native News Online. October 9, 2019. Retrieved October 9, 2019.[permanent dead link]
  52. ^ "LEGISLATIVE BILL 848" (PDF). January 8, 2020. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2021.
  53. ^ "Virginia Governor Ralph Northam - Proclamation". Retrieved October 11, 2020.
  54. ^ "Oregon to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day". Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved August 25, 2021.
  55. ^ "Texas Governor Greg Abbott signs Indigenous People's Day and Indigenous People's Week resolution". Indian Country Today. June 18, 2021. Retrieved June 28, 2021.
  56. ^ "Given their history of slavery and conquest, we should end Indigenous Peoples Day".
  57. ^ "'Indigenous Peoples Day' Booed at Michigan Rally for Donald Trump". Newsweek.

External links[edit]

Media related to Indigenous Peoples' Day at Wikimedia Commons