Why Indigenous Peoples’ Day?
Recognizing IPD instead of Columbus Day means acknowledging that Christopher Columbus inflicted immeasurable violence upon the Taíno People (also known as Arawak), indigenous to what is now called the Caribbean. To many Indigenous and Native Peoples in the North, Central and South Americas, the celebration of Columbus Day is painful. Columbus was responsible for what some consider to be the catalyst of the centuries of genocide, colonization, and slavery committed by European colonizers. Shifting the narrative to centering Indigenous and Native American history is a step towards repairing relations between the United States and sovereign Indigenous and Native American nations and tribes.
How are these changes being made?
Indigenous Peoples’ Day was officially proclaimed by President Biden in 2021 for the day previously observed as Columbus Day. While this shift in recognition of Indigenous and Native American people's histories and experiences was made recently by the White House, Indigenous and Native American people have been organizing communally and politically for this change for years. The Indigenous Peoples’ Initiative began collaborating with Senator Jamescita Peshlakai (AZ) in 2019, and IPI President Dylan Baca (Yavapai-Apache) played a critical role in championing President Biden’s proclamation. Also in 2019, Baley Champagne, United Houma Nation tribal citizen, petitioned Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards to proclaim the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. On September 11, 2019, the governor honored Bayle Champagne’s petition. Land first stewarded by Tséstho’e (Cheyenne), Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, Yanktonai, Mnicoujou became what is now called South Dakota. It was the first state to officially recognize Indigenous (or Native American) People’s Day, codified into state law in 1990. Although President Biden’s proclamation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day is considered a significant step toward repairing relations with Native peoples, decades of Indigenous and Native American organizing and mobilizing by young leaders, parents, aunties and elders on reservations and islands and in cities have amounted to this massive movement.
What does this mean for Equity?
Equity is committed to taking steps toward forging collaborative and reparative relations with the Indigenous and Native American people who are the first stewards of land which our offices occupy. Council passed a resolution in March, 2022 affirming this. This includes, but is not limited to:
As a labor union, we recognize that we have much progress to be made in cultivating direct, positive relations with these peoples, nations, and tribes. On this Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we encourage you to visit our Land Acknowledgment page where you can find additional informational resources on Indigenous and Native American history, activism, and current organizing efforts. We also acknowledge that Land Acknowledgments are a first step in our goals to stand in solidarity with Indigenous and Native American nations, tribes, and theatre communities. In accordance with federal labor holidays, Equity staff members will not be working on the Monday, October 10; however, as an organization we honor, recognize, and celebrate Indigenous and Native American people’s histories, cultures, resilience, and ongoing activism toward LANDBACK, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, Indigenous sovereignty,and more.