Posted: Monday, October 11, 2021. 4:00 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: President of the United States of America Joe Biden, in separate proclamations issued Friday from the White House, has recognized both Indigenous People’s Day and Columbus Day today, Monday.
The latter is a federal holiday across the U.S., but the former is increasing in recognition since it was first proposed in 1977. Biden is the first sitting president to recognize Indigenous People’s Day, but only ten states officially celebrate it.
In his proclamation, Biden writes, “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.” He also acknowledges the wrongs done historically to indigenous peoples by previous administrations.
In the Columbus Day proclamation, Biden notes that the Italian-born Spanish explorer was the first of many to come to the Americas, in his case seeking the way to Asia. Italian Americans, he says, have made continuous and lasting contributions to the U.S.
However, Columbus’ arrival brought pain and misery for the native peoples of the region and the U.S. must not seek to bury these “shameful episodes,”, he argues, but face them and recommit to righting the wrongs faced by indigenous peoples and Native Americans.
The holiday was established by joint resolution by Congress in 1934, modified in 1968, and is officially observed on the second Monday in October. Biden called for reflection “on America’s spirit of exploration, on the courage and contributions of Italian Americans throughout the generations, on the dignity and resilience of Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities, and on the work that remains ahead of us to fulfill the promise of our Nation for all.”
Prior to 2021 Belize observed Columbus or Pan American Day on October 12 or the closest Monday, but this year it is not being observed by order of Home Affairs Minister Kareem Musa.
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