- By Native News Online Staff
The bicameral Indigenous Peoples’ Day Act to replace Columbus Day as a federal holiday and designate the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day has been reintroduced in Congress.
The legislation was reintroduced by Representatives Sharice Davids (KS-03), Norma J. Torres (CA-35), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), and Suzan DelBene (WA-01), along with Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM).
The Indigenous Peoples’ Day Act has garnered 56 cosponsors in the House of Representatives.
In the U.S. Senate, the legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), and Cory Booker (D-NJ).
“Our country has long failed to recognize and acknowledge its dark history of erasure and harm brought upon the first inhabitants of the Americas,” Norma Torres (CA-35) said. “The Indigenous Peoples’ Day Act celebrates the 600+ tribes that inhabited the Americas for hundreds of years before the arrival of Western explorers. By designating Indigenous Peoples’ Day a federal holiday, we take a small but important step toward recognizing the injustices in our nation’s history and uplifting the vibrant traditions, history, and culture of all Indigenous communities – an integral part of the cultural fabric of the United States.”
Rep. Davids (Ho-Chunk), when elected in 2018 became one of the first women ever elected to Congress, said she is honored to join her colleagues in calling for the celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
"Indigenous Peoples' Day is an opportunity to commemorate Indigenous peoples' vibrant cultures and significant contributions to our nation — from before we became a union to today — and a day to acknowledge the persecution and discrimination that Native peoples have faced for centuries.” Davids said.
The legislation is endorsed by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).
“Long before Christopher Columbus stumbled upon this continent, many nations of Native people sustained thriving societies across this country,” NCAI Executive Director Larry Wright, Jr. (Ponca) said. “NCAI applauds Senator Heinrich, Senator Luján, and Representative Torres for re-introducing legislation designed to officially recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day and create space dedicated to acknowledging the rich histories, vibrant cultures, and resilience of contemporary tribal nations and their citizenry, and NCAI urges Congress to pass this bill and sign it into law as expeditiously as possible.”
The two largest tribal nations in the country, Cherokee Nation and Navajo Nation, also give their endorsement to the Act.
“Cherokee Nation supports legislation replacing ‘Columbus Day’ with ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day’ and applauds Congresswoman Torres and Senators Heinrich and Lujan for their continued leadership on this issue. It is past time for the United States to recognize the integral role Native people play in the history, economy, and future of our country. The second Monday of October will be a day for people across the United States to celebrate and honor the significant contributions of Native tribes as well as the beautiful culture of our Native people,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr.
"Recognizing and celebrating the rich histories, cultures, and contributions of indigenous peoples is an essential step towards promoting understanding, equality, and respect. By replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day, we acknowledge the resilience, wisdom, and enduring presence of indigenous communities, fostering unity and honoring the diverse tapestry of our nation's heritage. My thanks go out to Senator Heinrich and Congresswoman Torres for the introduction of the Indigenous Peoples Day Act in their respective houses,” said Navajo Nation President Dr. Buu Nygren.
Rep. Torres has introduced legislation to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day since 2019. She first introduced the Indigenous Peoples’ Day Act in 2021 to establish Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a federal holiday.
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