President Joe Biden on Friday became the first sitting U.S. president to issue a presidential proclamation marking Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is set to be celebrated on Monday – the same day as Columbus Day.
“The contributions that Indigenous peoples have made throughout history — in public service, entrepreneurship, scholarship, the arts, and countless other fields — are integral to our Nation, our culture, and our society,” Biden wrote in the proclamation Friday. “Today, we acknowledge the significant sacrifices made by Native peoples to this country — and recognize their many ongoing contributions to our Nation.”
“On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we honor America’s first inhabitants and the Tribal Nations that continue to thrive today. I encourage everyone to celebrate and recognize the many Indigenous communities and cultures that make up our great country,” added Biden.
Biden also issued a separate proclamation on Friday acknowledging Columbus Day, in which he celebrated Italian Americans but also referred to the violence Columbus inflicted on Native communities during his time.
“Today, we also acknowledge the painful history of wrongs and atrocities that many European explorers inflicted on Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities,” Biden wrote.
“It is a measure of our greatness as a Nation that we do not seek to bury these shameful episodes of our past – that we face them honestly, we bring them to the light, and we do all we can to address them.”
Over one hundred cities, including Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, Phoenix, San Francisco – and a number of states – including Minnesota, Alaska, Vermont, and Oregon – have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day, choosing instead to recognize the native populations that were displaced and decimated after Columbus and other European explorers reached the continent. Berkeley, California, was the first city to adopt Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 1992.