On Friday, Oct. 8, 2021, United States President Joe Biden issued a first-ever Proclamation for Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The first two sentences state: “Since time immemorial, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians have built vibrant and diverse cultures – safeguarding land, language, spirit, knowledge, and tradition across the generations. On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, our Nation celebrates the invaluable contributions and resilience of Indigenous peoples, recognizes their inherent sovereignty, and commits to honoring the Federal Government’s trust and treaty obligations to Tribal Nations.” Right off the bat, that second sentence is an insult to our Nations. We never did call ourselves “tribes”. That is a moniker put on us by the United States in the first place. It was an easy way to NOT recognize us as the NATIONS we are. It was also easier to force us to live under THEIR form of government, a Tribal Council form of government.
Indigenous Peoples Day
When Christopher Columbus landed on Turtle Island, which we now call North America, he brought with him a goal of making profit — of taking from the land and people to create commerce. Today, approximately 526 years later, that same pillaging continues to drive our planet further into the climate crisis and lead us into ecological collapse. Instead of honoring the violent colonization Columbus represents, we should use this day to call for truth and reconciliation — and honor the Indigenous communities at the forefront of efforts to heal the long-lasting environmental harm Columbus and his ilk have wrought. Settler colonialism has exacerbated climate change and made Indigenous communities sacrifice zones to this crisis. As we honor the truth of how this country was founded and continues to exploit Indigenous lands and territories, we must also recognize that climate change disproportionately impacts the Indigenous and Native peoples who are least responsible for this crisis.
In 2015, The Red Nation and a coalition of Native and non-Native organizations led a successful campaign to rename the second Monday of October Indigenous Peoples’ Day (IPD) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Albuquerque City Council issued a proclamation abolishing Columbus Day that was signed by Rey Garduño, Ken Sanchez, Klarissa Peña, Isaac Benton, Brad Winter, and Diane Gibson, with three council members abstaining. The proclamation declared that the day “shall be used to reflect upon the ongoing struggles of Indigenous peoples on this land.” For the first time this year, the city and their nefarious initiative “One Albuquerque,” are hosting an alternative to our annual IPD march and rally, with Albuquerque’s Mayor Tim Keller as the keynote speaker.
The work of our time is both slow and fast, rapidly transforming human society in the short and long term simultaneously. That can’t happen without re-examining our relationships with each other and with every other living thing on the planet. An honest one-sentence summary of the past 500 years is brutal reading: Tens of millions of Indigenous people around the world have been killed and forcibly removed from their lands in order to make rich and powerful white men even more rich and powerful. It’s still happening today.
New Mexico - Visitors to the historic plaza in Santa Fe, a bastion of liberalism in northern New Mexico, will find a charming square in the Spanish colonial style, surrounded by shops selling native wares — typically sold by non-native peoples — and a monument at the center of it all celebrating the slaughter of the area's original, commercially monetized inhabitants. At least until Monday, when protesters marked Indigenous Peoples' Day by tying a chain around the monument, managing to topple it amid clashes with police.