Today, we celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day by remembering the strength of our ancestors and the determination of our Indigenous communities to still be here today. Indigenous people of the Americas have withstood centuries of attempted erasure and eradication with the coming of colonization. Despite the cycles of violence and harsh reality of it all, Indigenous people continue to carry on traditions and ways of life that have been with us for time immemorial.
In April 2019, Gov. Lujan Grisham officially marked the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, establishing it as an official New Mexico state holiday (Office of Governor Lujan Grisham, October 2020). This was made possible by House Bill 100 which was sponsored by Representative Derrick J. Lente of Sandia Pueblo and Representative Andrea Romero. New Mexico, along with 14 other states, celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Those states include Alabama, Alaska, Hawai'i, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. This state holiday replaces Columbus Day and is yet to become a national holiday.
Indigenous people, close and far, have contributed in a variety of ways to society and our existence today and we should celebrate that. There are plenty of ways to honor the Indigenous people of the United States and those across the globe. One important thing you can do is learn about the territory you occupy and acknowledge you are on Indigenous land in the U.S. Here in New Mexico we have 23 federally recognized tribal communities. We call this Pueblo Country. Across the United States there are 574 federally recognized tribes and many others who are not federally recognized. We have to remember that Indigenous Peoples’ Day is only one day and that we must commit to an ongoing learning process to acknowledge and honor Indigenous people and their lands.
Expand your knowledge base by reading books written by Indigenous authors, listening to Indigenous musicians and Indigenous-created podcasts, and watching films and documentaries made by or with Indigenous people. As educators, scholars and learners, utilize these sources in your courses, cite them, recommend them to friends and share with others what you have learned. Consider donating to Native owned organizations, such as the Native American Rights Fund, Coalition to Stop Violence Against Women, Tewa Women United and Pueblo Action Alliance, to name a few. With the holidays upon us, purchase Indigenous-made art directly from Indigenous artists by attending local arts & craft shows and visiting the social media accounts of Indigenous artists. To help jumpstart the learning process I have included a short list of Indigenous books and media to become familiar with. Enjoy!
Authors / Books
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
There There by Tommy Orange
A Peoples’ Ecology by Gregory Cajete
An Indigenous Peoples’ History by Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz
Movie / Television / Documentary
The Pueblo Food Experience
All My Relations
Toasted Sister Podcast
A Tribe Called Red
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