5 Ways to Observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day

By October 5, 2020 Q&A

Most people in North America live on stolen Indigenous land. For decades, the mythological heroism of Christopher Columbus has caused deep pain for the Indigenous communities. It’s celebration and emphasis in textbooks ignores the violent history and oppression of European settler colonialism. For Indigenous communities, this pain and trauma are felt in the present day.

“To me, Indigenous means being proud of who you are and where you come from; remembering your ancestry and all that they’ve done to get us to where we are right now; and to educate our youth to be strong as Native People and to love themselves so our culture and traditions stay alive.”

Denise Hatch-Anderson, Tulalip Tribal Member from Tulalip News, 10/11/2018

In 2014, the City of Seattle observed Indigenous Peoples’ Day for the first time. Over the past six years, more cities and states have come together to replace Columbus Day. Indigenous Peoples’ Day represents a long fight to recognize the role of Indigenous people in American history.

Not sure how to observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day? Here are five (5) ideas!

An image from the Hibulb Cultural Center. On the right, there is a photograph of decorated canoes along a wall with ropes surrounding each canoe. The background wall is painted with various scenic landscapes. On the left, there is a large, tribal wooden carving on a person holding an oar.
Hibulb Cultural Center & Natural History Preserve. Photo from https://www.hibulbculturalcenter.org/.

[1] Visit the Hibulb Cultural Center & Natural History Preserve

Explore the local Indigenous history at the Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve. The interactive Cultural Center features exhibits, a longhouse, fully certified collections, research library, and an archeological repository. With its recent reopening, the Cultural Center shares a meaningful exhibit on The Power of Words. If you cannot visit in-person, the Cultural Center also offers a collection of videos and images online to aid in virtual learning.

[2] Learn from the experiences of Indigenous voices

All My Relations is a podcast hosted by Matika Wilbur (Swinomish and Tulalip) and Adrienne Keene (Cherokee Nation) to explore our relationships— relationships to land, to our creatural relatives, and to one another.

Coffee with my Ma is a podcast between mother and daughter. Radical activist mother, Kahentinetha Horn tells stories of her very long adventurous life, always with the sense of humor that carried her through.

Being an Indigenous Music Therapist” from the podcast, The Feeling is Musical. Through authentic conversation, the episode explores Indigenous ways of knowing in therapeutic spaces with Sarah Bell from the Métis people of Canada.

Women from the Tohono O'odham Nation leading the Tucson 2019 Women’s March. They are dressed with some traditional dress and accessories. In the foreground, a woman walks with a young boy holding her arm. She's carrying a sign that reads, "My mom, sisters, aunties, and grandmas are sacred."
Women from the Tohono O’odham Nation led the Tucson 2019 Women’s March with a show of strength, resilience and power. Photo by Dulcey Lima.

[3] Be an advocate for Indigenous Rights

Join the fight for the rights of Indigenous people. On September 28, 2020, an Atikamekw woman, Joyce Echaquan, was murdered by two nurses working at the CISSS de Lanaudiere in Joliette, Quebec. Joyce was a mother of 7 children, a sister, a daughter, a friend. Learn more about her story and sign this petition to call for justice.

Also, contact your representatives if your city has yet to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and don’t hesitate to start conversations with your family and friends about why it’s important to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of Columbus Day.

A slice of wood with an engraved image of a crab with tribal patterns. A hand is holding the art from the bottom to allow it to be photographed.
Native Heartbeats. Photo from https://www.facebook.com/NativeHeartbeats/.

[4] Support Indigenous artists and businesses

Advocate through more than words – take an action. Here are some local Native artists in the Greater Seattle area: Native Heartbeats, Eighth Generation, and other Pacific Northwest print artists. Don’t live near Seattle? Find local Indigenous artists and businesses near you.

[5] Develop an understanding of issues facing Indigenous communities

Systemic racism impacts Indigenous communities every day. These Indigenous filmmakers share about the impact of racism in their lives and/or Native communities.

Cloud Makers directed by Rachel Deutsch – A short film about the environmental racism negatively impacting the health and well-being of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation.

A Native man (exact tribe not specified) sitting the driver's seat of a car while talking. The viewer can see through the window behind him to a road leading to a chemical plant.
Ron Plain, an Environmental Policy Analyst and Southern First Nations Secretariat, explains how the system enabled the theft of land from the Aamjiwnaang First Nation. Photograph from the film, Cloud Makers.

Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen directed by Hepi Mita – A documentary portrait of pioneering filmmaker and mother Merata Mita, detailing how her filmmaking intersected with the lives of her children and Indigenous filmmakers globally, and featuring rare archival footage dating back to 1977. [Available on Netflix.]

Something’s Moving directed by Randy Vasquez – A short film that tells the story of three Residential School Survivors in the United States, and their efforts to heal themselves, to restore what was taken from them, and to allow future generations to live a life that’s free from trauma, shame, fear and self-loathing.

At the Music Project, we acknowledge that we occupy the ancestral lands of Snohomish (sduhubš) people and other Coast Salish tribes.

What ancestral lands do you live on? Find out for free at native-land.ca today!

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