Happy Indigenous People’s Day! Today, we celebrate as resistance.
We have much to resist: Brett Kavanaugh, a white man and attempted rapist who has a track record of gutting indigenous rights, environmental protections, and voting rights for people of color, was recently sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice . Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the only Republican to not vote yes on his confirmation, comes from a state with the highest number of reported rapes in the U.S., where just last month a white man was given a free pass after pleading guilty to kidnapping, strangling, and sexually assaulting a Native Alaskan woman . And Columbus Day is still a federally recognized holiday that honors another white man who did not “discover” America and whose atrocious legacy instead includes colonization, enslaving, raping, and killing hundreds of thousands of indigenous people (namely the Taíno) and initiating the African slave trade [3, 4].
We have even more to celebrate. This 9th installment of our #UnlearningWithCoFED series is about Indigenous People’s Day — a holiday that honors Indigenous peoples and cultures and was created to replace Columbus Day.
As a reminder, here’s how we define unlearning: a continuous process of questioning what and how we’ve been taught so that we can learn other ways of knowing, doing, and being that serve our collective liberation and help us dismantle all forms of oppression. Through our #UnlearningWithCoFED series, we’ll be questioning and learning together how co-ops fit into the larger visions of food, racial, economic, gender and climate justice.
Native American activists have been working to abolish Columbus Day ever since it became a federal holiday in 1937. In 1988, Hawaii replaced Columbus Day with Discoverer’s Day in recognition of the Polynesians who discovered the Hawaiian islands , and in 1990, South Dakota became the first state to replace Columbus Day with Native American Day. Then, in 1992, inspired by the First Continental Conference on 500 Years of Indian Resistance in Quito, Ecuador, in 1990, Berkeley became the first city to switch to Indigenous People’s Day. Most of the 60+ cities, states and universities that have followed suit and replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day have done so only recently — and the momentum is growing.
Chances are you’re already observing Indigenous People’s Day. However, if your co-op, city, college, or community isn’t already celebrating over 500 years of indigenous resistance, here’s how you can help others unlearn the lies supporting Columbus Day and celebrate Indigenous People’s Day instead:
- Share this Breakfast Club interview about why to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day, featuring YoNasDa Lonewolf, an Oglala Lakota and Black activist, and Nicky Eagle Eye Banks, a tribal leader of Shinnecock Indian Nation.
- Listen to today’s episode of Indigenous Rights Radio, featuring activist Pua Case who is kānaka maoli (or Native Hawaiian).
- Tune into the Global Indigenous Wisdom Summit, a special Facebook Live event, and join indigenous leaders from around the world for a day of Earth-based wisdom teachings, prayers, and music to support transformation, healing, and social change.
- Unlearn the Christian Doctrine of Discovery, which underlies the myth of Columbus “discovering” America and is still used in U.S. law to deny the rights of Native Americans today.