How to Honor Indigenous Peoples Day
Fatima Garcia of the group Danza Azteca Guadalupana dances during an event celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Austin, Texas, on Saturday. Credit...Pu Huang/Reuters
Many people may have today off of work - yay, right!? Although you may be enjoying this long weekend doing fun fall activities, today's holidays are important to acknowledge. Today is not only Columbus Day, but it is also Indigenous Peoples Day. It is important to recognize that Columbus’s landfall in the Americas was not all fun and dandy, but unfortunately it led to millions of deaths of Native peoples. Take a minute to read this blog today and find out some ways that you can support Indigenous communities and amplify their voices.
Before the appearance of Europeans on the shores of the New World, our country was already home to a thriving civilization. Expansion, manifest destiny, and persecution of these people would lead to their numbers being significantly reduced. Today these cultures, whose lands once reached from coast to coast, are primarily relegated to reservations. In many cases, these reservations are hundreds of miles from their ancestral homeland. Indigenous Peoples Day is focused on raising awareness of these cultures and the persecution they faced as a result of colonialism.
How Indigenous Peoples Day Works To Overcome Hundreds of Years of Misrepresentation
The native peoples for whom America was home had cultures as diverse as those of any area of Earth. Despite this, they are often portrayed as a homogenous culture sharing broadly similar practices, traditional clothing, etc. Consider, for example, the classic spaghetti westerns of which Clint Eastwood was a prominent member. Native Americans are typically portrayed as savage, primitive, and backward. This misrepresentation of Native American culture remains one of the most prominent images in the mind of modern Americans. It is crucial to acknowledge the discriminations that Indigenous People have endured throughout history and today. Take some action today to amplify the voices of Indigenous people, promote the education of Native American history, and continue the important dialogue of the problems affecting Indigenous communities.
Indigenous Peoples Day seeks to overcome these stereotypes and honor these people and their culture by raising awareness. Observed on October 11th, otherwise known as Columbus Day, Indigenous Peoples Day aims to honor the native people as well as their history and culture.
The History of Indigenous Peoples Day
It wasn't until 1934 that it became recognized as a national holiday by President Franklin D. Roosevelt (our favorite President 😉). Now the United States has an official day dedicated to recognizing these cultures' cultural and historical significance.
In time, it's hoped that this holiday will serve to overcome the stereotypes that persist regarding these cultures. Every nation of Native Americans retains its own traditions, rituals, and beliefs. This holiday also serves to remind us of their strength, fortitude, and energy.
Thoughtful Ways To Be An Ally
If you're looking for ways to engage in Indigenous Peoples Day, you'll find there are lots of opportunities. Many states hold celebrations during this period, as do several Native American Nations. Take the time to learn what native cultures occupied the area where you live before colonization and how many remain. Reservations tend to have celebrations during this time of year where interested parties can learn more about them and their cultures.
One actionable way to support Indigenous communities is to support their businesses. Use today to find a new favorite Native-owned brand. Many native traditions such as smudging have gained popularity and it is crucial to be aware of the cultural appropriation that comes with it. If you practice these rituals, you should consider finding an authentic, Native brand to purchase your supplies from. Not only is this more ethical, but you are directly supporting and respecting Native communities by doing so.
Support the Indigenous people by purchasing from native artisans or donating to activists and groups. One organization that we are particularly close to is the Rainforest Foundation US. This nonprofit organization protects the rainforests in Central and South America by working with the indigenous communities that call them home. By investing directly in these indigenous communities, they connect people who are deeply connected to their ancestral lands with the tools, training, and resources necessary to protect their homes. Our Save The F*cking Rainforest patch directly supports this organization with 100% of the sales.
You can also take steps to help educate others on these cultures once you've become educated yourself. Motivate your friends and family to look into the places they live and who they used to belong to. A little awareness can help uplift and maintain the dignity these cultures deserve. They're an essential part of the history of the America we all live in today.