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Indigenous Peoples Day: America's reckoning with native communities

Cynthia Valdez performs with the Danza Azteca group Xipe Totec during a 2016 Indigenous People’s Day celebration in California. (credit: CSUF Photos via Flickr/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Today, Indigenous Peoples Day is being observed in more than a dozen states. Maryland isn’t among them. But the movement to ditch the traditional Columbus Day holiday is growing, in favor of celebrating the unique contributions Native Americans have made, and continue to make to our nation.

Several cities in Maryland have replaced Columbus Day with the holiday to honor Native American history and culture, including Baltimore. Washington DC and more than 130 other cities, counties and school districts across the country have done so, as well.

On Friday (October 8), President Biden issued the first-ever Presidential Proclamation on Indigenous People’s Day, which was considered a major stride towards re-directing the focus of the federal Columbus Day holiday towards recognition of Native Peoples. It said, in part, “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.”

Columbus Day is a federal holiday established by Congress. The President also issued a Columbus Day Proclamation, in which he acknowledged “the painful history of wrongs and atrocities that many European explorers inflicted on Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities.”

Daisee Francour, a member of the Oneida Nation, works with Cultural Survival, a Cambridge, Mass., non-profit group (Francour)

Joining us now is Daisee Francour. She is a member of the Oneida Tribal Nation and serves as Director of Strategic Partnerships and Communications at Cultural Survival, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based non-profit group that helps indigenous communities protect and preserve their cultural traditions.

Daisee Francour connects with us on Zoom from Chicago.

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