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In his first official State of the Union address, Biden recognizes Indigenous Peoples’ Day

By issuing a proclamation recognizing Oct. 11 as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, President Joseph Biden became the first president to recognize the holiday, which commemorates the Native Americans who lived in this country prior to Christopher Columbus’ arrival. On Friday (October 8), the Vice President issued two separate statements regarding Indigenous Peoples Day and Columbus Day, both of which will be celebrated on the second Monday of October.

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Credit: Joshua Sukoff

By issuing a proclamation recognizing Oct. 11 as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, President Joseph Biden became the first president to recognize the holiday, which commemorates the Native Americans who lived in this country prior to Christopher Columbus’ arrival. On Friday (October 8), the Vice President issued two separate statements regarding Indigenous Peoples Day and Columbus Day, both of which will be celebrated on the second Monday of October.

Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Hawaiians, through generations of heritage, ancestry, languages, spirits, languages, and knowledge have built vibrant and diverse cultures, Biden wrote in his proclamation declaring Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Despite the remarkable progress we have made through the years, we have never been able to completely live up to the promise of equality and opportunity that our country was founded on. In particular, it is important to uphold the rights and dignity of Indigenous people who have been in North America since long before colonization took place.”

Native people, and Native culture, have been systematically assimilate and displace through federal policies for generations. In recognition of the resilience and strength of Indigenous peoples, and the immeasurable positive contribution that they have made to every aspect of American society, today we recognize the contributions Native Americans have made.”

Columbus Day is celebrated on October 12th. Officially, Biden noted during his proclamation that Columbus’ legacy continues through Italian Americans who “provide a rich heritage and culture to the Nation.”

The European explorers, who fought here long ago, have committed atrocities against indigenous peoples and indigenous Nations. We also acknowledge that these wrongs and atrocities occurred in the past. The fact that we from this great Nation do not bury these horrific episodes of our past and bring them to light and address them in the best way possible, is a measure of what makes us great,” he wrote. On this day, let us reflect on the spirit of exploration that has guided the founding of this nation, on the courage and contributions of Italian Americans and other ethnic communities throughout this country, and on the challenges ahead in fulfilling these promises.”

Columbus Day became an official federal holiday in the United States in 1971, following the signing of legislation by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968 that designated the second Monday of October as Columbus Day. At present, 14 states as well as Washington, D.C., and more than 100 major cities participate in Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

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