America's First Hate Crime
Christopher Columbus Day has been observed in the United States since the 18th Century, and was made a federal holiday in 1937. As early as the 19th century, many Native Americans and Indigenous activists have protested celebrating the colonization of the Americas, the beginnings of the transatlantic slave trade, and the murder and death of millions of Indigenous people. In 2021, President Biden issued a proclamation recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrates the first inhabitants and tribal nations of the Americas and recognize of the legacy of colonization that perpetuates violence against Indigenous peoples. Currently, only 14 states, more than 130 cities, and the District of Columbia celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of or in addition to Columbus Day. Some states celebrate the similar but separate Native American Day including South Dakota, which celebrates in October, and California in September.
While there are no rules or official traditions on how to celebrate and honor Indigenous Peoples’ Day, it is dedicated to education, recognition, and reflection of the integral roles Native and Indigenous peoples’ have played in the U.S. And shifts focus to the legacy of colonization and whitewashing of history that has directly impacted Native and Indigenous people.