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Celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day on Oct. 11

October 07, 2021

The holiday honors the resilience and cultural impact of Indigenous and Native peoples.


Each autumn, we have the opportunity to honor Indigenous and Native peoples on Indigenous Peoples' Day.


Celebrated the second Monday in October, Indigenous Peoples Day has been enacted by more than 100 U.S. cities and some states as an alternative to Columbus Day.


History of the Day


Indigenous Peoples' Day was first acknowledged formally in 1991 in Berkeley, Calif., to honor the survival of the Indigenous peoples. The following year, the city marked the day with various celebrations and events. The selection of Oct. 11, 1992, was meant to coincide with the 500th anniversary of explorer Christopher Columbus arriving in the Americas.


While Columbus Day has been observed in the U.S. since 1792, it didn't become an official national holiday until 1934. Many Indigenous people have long protested the observance of Columbus Day, citing the takeover of North American land and communities that led to the deaths of millions of Indigenous and Native people.


Show Your Support


How can you observe Indigenous Peoples' Day and honor the lives of Indigenous and Native peoples?


Much like Martin Luther King Jr. Day is now seen as a day to offer the gift of your time as a volunteer.


Organizations such as Survival International provide resources on how to support these communities, from raising funds to circulating petitions. You can also look for opportunities to volunteer on a local reservation.


Groups like the American Indian College Fund, which provides financial resources to Native American students and tribal colleges, and the Native American Rights Fund, which provides legal assistance to tribes, organizations and individuals, also would welcome your support.


Learn More About the Land


Another way to celebrate the holiday is by paying your respects to Indigenous and Native communities from home. In recent years, you may have noticed that land acknowledgements are used to open an increasing number of events (whether they take place virtually or in-person).


The goal of a land acknowledgement is to show the history of land and to whom land belongs tribally. To learn more about the history of your location — and which tribes resided or currently reside there — you can check out dynamic maps like UCLA's Mapping Indigenous LA project or Native Land.


Showing Respect for Indigenous Peoples


Events like Indigenous Peoples' Day are part of an effort to ensure the community is fully visible and represented. Advocates are working to educate the public about social and economic issues facing the community. Seeing positive representations of Indigenous and Native peoples in pop culture is another sign of long overdue progress.


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