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Biden becomes the first president to mark Indigenous Peoples' Day

Holiday celebrated each year on Columbus Day
President Joe Biden
Posted at 2:13 PM, Oct 08, 2021

President Joe Biden on Friday issued a proclamation observing Indigenous Peoples' Day, becoming the first president in U.S. history to do so, according to Axios and ABC News.

Biden's proclamation recognized Oct. 11 — the same day the federal government will recognize Columbus Day — as Indigenous Peoples' Day. It marks perhaps the most significant event yet in the push to re-focus the day celebrating explorer Christopher Columbus towards a day to honor Native Americans.

"On Indigenous Peoples' Day, our Nation celebrates the invaluable contributions and resilience of Indigenous peoples, recognizes their inherent sovereignty, and commits to honoring the Federal Government's trust and treaty obligations to Tribal Nations," Biden's proclamation read.

The White House also noted the atrocities committed against Native American groups throughout the years — including past federal policies that forced Native Americans to shed their culture — as well as the inequities that still face tribes to this day.

"Our country was conceived on a promise of equality and opportunity for all people — a promise that, despite the extraordinary progress we have made through the years, we have never fully lived up to," the proclamation read.

"Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples' resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society," the statement read in closing.

For decades, Native American activists have called on governments to re-focus Columbus Day celebrations due to the fact that the explorer slaughtered and enslaved Native people upon arriving in North America.

In recent years, major cities like Boston and Los Angeles have taken up those calls and chosen to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day.

However, certain groups have advocated for keeping Columbus Day in place. According to NPR, some Italian American groups argue that the adoption of Columbus Day in the 1930s helped give Italian immigrants an identity at a time when many were discriminated against because of their heritage.