Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Indigenous Peoples’ Day — while not a federal holiday — is recognized on the second Monday in October by many cities and states in the United States, including the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County and California. The day coincides with the federal holiday, Columbus Day, which is not a coincidence but instead began as an intentional counter-celebration of the anniversary of when the Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus landed in America. 

Upon the colonization of the Americas, many Indigenous People who lived here long before the arrival of Columbus faced violence, slavery and other forms of oppression, leading to the widespread death and erasure of Indigenous Peoples’ history, culture and traditions. In recognition of this fact, Indigenous Peoples’ Day lifts-up and celebrates the history of Indigenous People of America and creates visibility for the present-day Indigenous Peoples who still live in the United States. 

According to TIME, Indigenous Peoples’ Day first began in Berkeley, California in 1992, when the Berkeley City Council voted to rename Columbus Day as the “Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People.” The city went on to implement educational programs in libraries, schools and museums that countered the narrative that Columbus heroically “discovered” America. Since then, many cities and states throughout the United States have followed suit by celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the anniversary of the day that Columbus first arrived in North America. 

In Los Angeles County, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors passed a motion to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2017, with the first official recognition taking place in 2019. The motion followed a similar vote made several weeks earlier by Los Angeles City Council, which officially replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2018. In the state of California, Indigenous Peoples’ Day became a state-recognized holiday in 2019, when California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation officially recognizing the day. As greater awareness is brought to light about the history of Indigenous Peoples in the United States, there is a growing movement for cities, states and the federal government to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day through legislation. 

Below is a list of educational resources for learning more about the history of Indigenous Peoples in America, including ways you can honor and teach your children about the history of Indigenous People. And don’t forget to celebrate by checking out some of the local and online events happening on or around October 11th!