The second Monday in October is recognized as Columbus Day, a holiday that celebrates the explorer “discovering” America and ushering in an era for Western European expansion.
For many Native Americans, Columbus Day has long been recognized as the “violent history of colonization,” and the subsequent European expansion that led to the systematic extermination of the Native American Culture.
Indigenous People’s Day was designed to bring a voice to Native American Culture. First recognized in the
1990s, there are now dozens of cities across the U.S. that recognize it as a holiday either celebrated in conjunction with Columbus Day or separate unto itself. Three Colorado cities have officially passed ordinances recognizing Indigenous People’s day, they are Denver, Durango and Boulder.
Nikhil Mankekar is the Chairman of the City of Boulder Human Rights Commission. He says Indigenous People’s Day is a chance to give a voice to a people whose history has been misrepresented.
“The history of Indigenous people in a lot of these lands, and what actually happened has been a hidden history, it hasn’t been told, and people don’t know about it,” said Mankekar. “So, I think in cities establishing Indigenous People’s Day, it’s an opportunity to make an invisible people, and their history visible.”
Mankekar says there is also an opportunity to help educate a new generation within the school system.
“We’re going and putting on events in the schools to help teach and educate kids,” he said, “and so it’s just really opened up an opportunity for the discussion around these issues in the schools.”
Boulder is highlighting several events to raise awareness for Indigenous People’s Day, including a youth cultural exchange experience, art exhibits, a Pow Wow featuring traditional dance and song and a parade. They are all focused on the stories, culture and history of the Indigenous Peoples of North America. The City of Boulder provided financial support through grants offered by the Human Relations Commission and Boulder Arts Commission.