Why Indigenous Peoples’ Day is important to me and should be important to you


"Indigenous Peoples Day" by Robbt is licensed under CC BY 2.0

On Oct. 8, 2021, what had nationally been celebrated as Columbus Day since 1792 was changed, and with it, the future for all Native Americans across the country.

Being adopted at birth and moving from Dulac, Louisiana, where the United Houma Nation resides, to Norco, Louisiana made my Native American heritage feel unfamiliar to me for some of my life.

I was adopted into a white family, so I haven’t been able to strongly connect with my culture the way I would’ve if I’d grown up on my tribe reservation.

As supportive as my parents are, they can’t understand the traditions and beliefs of Native Americans the way a Native American person could. In a way, since I didn’t grow up there, I couldn’t fully understand them either.

Despite being in an open adoption where I had contact with my biological mother, Gail, I still felt that disconnect. I saw Gail once or twice every other year, but I didn’t begin my own research on my culture until I began high school.

My connection to my Native American culture is something that I owe solely to myself. Native American history is gruesome, and although change is happening, they’re not treated as a serious culture.

To this day the United Houma Nation is not recognized by the federal government as a Native American tribe.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day is important to me because it makes me feel included in my culture in a way that I don’t normally feel on a day-to-day basis.

Native Americans are eager to share their culture with the masses. I have always perceived my fellow Native Americans to be a very welcoming people. As a white-passing Native American person, I have never in my life felt “Native American enough,” but on this day, I feel included.

On Oct. 8, 2021, what had nationally been celebrated as Columbus Day since 1792 was changed, and with it, the future for all Native Americans across the country.

President Joe Biden is now the first president in American history to recognize Oct. 11 as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

On whitehouse.gov, Biden released a new proclamation.

“I encourage everyone to celebrate and recognize the many Indigenous communities and cultures that make up our great country,” Biden said. “Now, therefore, I, Joseph R. Biden Jr., president of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 11, 2021, as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”

This is not the first time we have celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day. In 1992, the name Indigenous Peoples’ Day was coined to be counter-celebrated on the same day as Columbus Day.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day has since been celebrated to recognize the hard work native people have done to build our country from the ground up, as well as recognize the enslavement, torture and genocide Christopher Columbus inflicted on our ancestors.

We are still here. We have always been here. And now we are nationally recognized for all we have done for our land.

As Indigenous Peoples’ Day continues to be celebrated by the masses, I hope that native people all over the country can feel respected and seen, whether they be natives living on reservations, or people like me that haven’t had the chance up until now to feel seen.