Native American Day

On Columbus Day, residents of the USA usually celebrate Christopher Columbus’ arrival to the Americas. However, Native Americans strongly oppose this holiday and refuse from observing it. And one can understand their point of view as for them Columbus is not a land explorer but a subjugator whose arrival led to wiping out their culture. European settlers brought violence, disease and slavery to the continent and oppressed the indigenous population. For this reason, natives promote the replacement of Columbus Day with Native People Day that would help people learn more about native cultures.

The major facts about Native People Day

  • Today, only South Dakota celebrates Native Americans Day statewide, due to the fact that natives comprise 10% of population of this state. They began celebrating Native Americans Day instead of Columbus Day in 1990, when the “Year of Reconciliation” was declared between European Americans and Native Americans. To celebrate the day, citizens from both nations gather near the Crazy Horse Memorial. The native culture is celebrated by showing native dances, singing the songs, telling traditional tales and displaying artwork. The traditional dish on this celebration is buffalo stew.
  • Across the country, some other cities also accept Native People’s Day. For example, it is celebrated in Seattle, WA on the second Monday of October. Almost 30 tribes from the state of Washington perform on the streets of the city on this day.
  • In Minneapolis, MN this day is observed, as well. People begin celebrating at sunrise. They hold a ceremony and then watch traditional dances of Native American tribes. Those who want to learn more about the indigenous culture can take part in a panel discussion on this day.
  • In Berkeley, CA, Indigenous Peoples’ Day began to be observed in 1992. On this day, they hold an Indian Market, where people sell traditional handicrafts. Those who take part in the celebration can communicate with the natives and learn more about their culture.
  • In Hawaii, people also refuse to celebrate Columbus Day, but they do not celebrate Native Americans Day either. Instead, they observe Discoverers’ Day, honoring the Polynesian explorers – the first explorers who landed on the shores of this island.

Even though some states and cities in the United States already celebrate Native Americans Day instead of Columbus Day, the celebration’s spread all over the country is still faced by some issues. For example, Italian Americans are the ones who oppose the replacement, because they feel that they celebrate their culture by honoring Columbus. However, the movement is still ongoing and the number of communities who have moved from celebrating Columbus to honoring the native culture is growing. Therefore, we can expect that eventually the replacement will occur in many other cities and states, as well. Which is good, because we need to remember that Native Americans have lived in the United States before Europeans and their culture deserves to be honored.