Haaland, Fellow Congressional Native American Caucus Members Call for Federal Holiday Designation for Indigenous Peoples’ Day
Albuquerque, N.M. – U.S. Representatives Deb Haaland, Norma J. Torres (D-CA), Tom Cole (R-OK), Sharice Davids (D-KS) and Betty McCollum (D-MN) today introduced a bipartisan Congressional Resolution calling for the official designation of the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in place of Columbus Day as a federal holiday.
Last year, the New Mexico Legislature passed and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill officially recognizing Indigenous People’s Day as a state holiday. First proposed in 1977 by a delegation of Native Nations to the United Nations International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Peoples in the Americas, Indigenous Peoples’ Day is currently celebrated on the second Monday of October in over 50 municipalities and ten states.
The Indigenous Peoples’ Day Resolution is supported by the National Congress of American Indians, the President of the Navajo Nation, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the Barona Band of Mission Indians, the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians and the Episcopal Church.
The Resolution’s Co-Leads released the following statements:
“Indigenous communities were thriving on this continent long before the Europeans arrived, but as a country we still recognize Columbus Day as a federal holiday,” Congresswoman Deb Haaland, Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus, said.“Our resolution recognizing Indigenous People’s Day acknowledges our country’s real history and celebrates our languages, traditions, and heritage. My ancestors migrated to what is now New Mexico back in the late 1200s and our traditions and food are woven into New Mexico’s culture. By dedicating this day to the strength and resilience of Indigenous peoples, we condemn those who have tried to erase us, and build strength through understanding,”
“This Indigenous Peoples’ Day Resolution is an opportunity to honor the true nature of our founding and re-focus a federal holiday on the incredible cultural contributions of Native peoples that have been absent from our celebrations until now,” Congresswoman Norma Torres said. “Indigenous peoples thrived in the Americas for thousands of years before Europeans arrived, and endured incredible hardships as a result of colonialization. Federal holidays should celebrate our heritage and culture, but also honor the struggles that led to society as we know it. Native cultures provide an enduring tapestry of traditions and beliefs that enrich our union and our daily lives. I’m excited to join my colleagues in calling for a true celebration of these contributions through an annual Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”
“Long before the United States came to be, tribes and indigenous people lived and thrived here,” Congressman Tom Cole, co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus, said. “Centuries later, the first Americans continue to greatly influence, shape and contribute to our collective history. As a proud member of Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, I am delighted to join in support of creating a federal holiday that commemorates and celebrates the rich heritage, unique culture and special contributions of indigenous people in the United States.”
“I’m honored to join my colleagues in calling for the national celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” Congresswoman Sharice Davids said. “This holiday should be spent listening to Native voices and learning from the stories of our long histories and our vibrant cultures. While recognizing the persecution and discrimination that Native peoples have faced for centuries in their ancestral homelands, this is also a day to celebrate the cultural contributions of our peoples and the ongoing fight to protect and strengthen tribal sovereignty. As one of the first Native American women ever elected to Congress, I am proud to see the celebration of this day spreading across so many communities in America and within the halls of Congress.”
“This bipartisan resolution in support of Indigenous Peoples’ Day honors the first people who lived in North America and their immeasurable contributions – and I’m especially proud to recognize Minnesota’s Ojibwe and Dakota nations,” Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Co-Chair Emeritus of the Native American Caucus, said. “As we celebrate these resilient and strong communities, we must recognize the ways in which colonization still impacts our Native American brothers and sisters. The U.S. government must continue working to uphold its trust and treaty obligations to tribal governments.”
The Indigenous Peoples’ Day Resolution is cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA), Mark Takano (D-CA), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Greg Stanton (D-AZ), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Sylvia Garcia (D-TX), Veronica Escobar (D-TX), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Lacy Clay (D-MO), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NV), Kendra Horn (D-OK), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Adam Smith (D-WA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Tony Cárdenas (D-CA).
Text of the Indigenous Peoples’ Day Resolution is available here.