GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Last week, Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss declared the second Monday in October Indigenous Peoples Day. 

The mayor made the designation to recognize, celebrate, and honor the values that Anishinaabek (Ojibwe, Odawa, Potawatomi) People of the Three Fires brought to the city, including (but not limited to) technology, thought, and Indigenous culture. The day also commends the current contributions made by Native people by acknowledging ancestral lands.

The proclamation was co-created and authored by several Native members and professionals, including Vice Chairperson for Anishinaabe Circle & Northern Office Supervisor Camie Castaneda (Potawatomi), President of Women’s LifeStyle, Inc. Two Eagles Marcus (Pueblo), Grand Rapids Community Relations Commissioner Matt Schultz (Potawatomi), Grand River Bands of Ottawa Indians Tribal Counselor Frank Wesaw (Odawa, Potawatomi),  former chair of the City of Grand Rapids Community Relations Commission Belinda (Lin) Bardwell (Odawa) and Native News Online’s Editor Levi Rickert (Potawatomi).

Last year, Michigan joined the ranks of a dozen U.S. states that adopted Indigenous Peoples Day in lieu of Columbus Day in a proclamation by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. 

Historically, the U.S. did not recognize Columbus Day as a significant holiday until the 20th Century. The Library of Congress reports that “the first recorded celebration of Columbus Day in the United States took place on Oct. 12, 1792. Organized by the Society of St. Tammany, also known as the Columbian Order, it commemorated the 300th anniversary of Columbus’ landing.” It wasn’t until 1934 that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt designated Columbus Day a national holiday.

Since 1992, the IPD movement has significantly grown in the number of support from cities and states. IPD advocates have spoken out against the genocidal acts associated with Columbus and instead want to commemorate the Indigenous lives’ lost while attempting to heal the wounds of historical trauma. 

Bliss said that the proclamation “brings forward the intentional acknowledgement and recognition of the original people of this place that we call Grand Rapids. I encourage all residents and friends to take time on October 12 to honor and celebrate ‘Indigenous Peoples Day.’”

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About The Author
Monica Whitepigeon
Author: Monica Whitepigeon
Monica White Pigeon (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is a contributing writer to Native News Online. She covers tribes throughout the Great Lakes region as well as Urban Native issues. She can be reached at [email protected]