Indigenous Peoples' Day – October 11, 2021

Indigenous Peoples’ Day is celebrated on the second Monday of October, on October 11 this year, to honor the cultures and histories of the Native American people. The day is centered around reflecting on their tribal roots and the tragic stories that hurt but strengthened their communities.

History of Indigenous Peoples' Day

The first seed of Indigenous Peoples’ Day was planted at a U.N. international conference on discrimination in 1977. The first state to recognize the day was South Dakota in 1989. Berkeley, California, and Santa Cruz followed suit.

Although the day was still considered Columbus Day up to 1937, many people began calling it Indigenous Peoples’ Day to celebrate the rich culture and the lives of the Native American people.

For the Native Americans, Columbus Day was always hurtful as it glorified the violent past constituting 500 years of colonial torture and oppression by European explorers like Columbus and those who settled in America. Indigenous Peoples’ Day draws attention to the pain, trauma, and broken promises that were erased by the celebration of Columbus Day. Before his arrival, the indigenous folk were successful self-sufficient communities that sustained life for thousands of years.

Year by year, the movement to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day spreads to more and more states, towns, and cities across the United States of America.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrates, recognizes, and honors the beautiful traditions and cultures of the Indigenous People, not just in America, but around the world. Their way of life and culture carries wisdom and valuable insights into how we can live life more sustainably.

Today, 14 U.S. states celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day and not Columbus Day, as well as the District of Columbia. More than 130 cities including Arlington, Amherst, Cambridge, Brookline, Marblehead, Great Barrington, Northampton, Provincetown, Somerville, and Salem also celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Indigenous Peoples' Day timeline

May 1763
Pontiac’s Rebellion

A group of Native American tribes from Illinois, Great Lakes, and Ohio successfully persuade the British to change policies in favor of the Native Americans.

April 5, 1838
Trail of Tears

The Cherokee tribe is ordered to leave their tribal lands by President Andrew Jackson, taking the path now called the Trail of Tears.

January 1, 1899
Ghost Dance

Wovoka, a Native American, has a mystical experience and makes others join him in a ghost dance ritual for peace and prosperity.

June 2, 1924
Indian Citizenship Act

Native Americans in the U.S. are granted U.S. citizenship.

Indigenous Peoples' Day FAQs

When did Columbus Day become Indigenous Peoples’ Day?

In 1992, Columbus Day became Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a sign of protest against the massacres that the Native Americans suffered at the hands of the Europeans.

How does Indigenous Peoples’ Day help our community?

The day helps as a remedy for the harmful effects of racism in the U.S. and the inaccurate historical facts that have been spread to justify white supremacy and colonization.

Why shouldn't we celebrate Columbus Day?

Celebrating Columbus Day and Columbus himself goes against the very essence of indigenous nations as he was the man who began the genocide of the Native Americans.

How to Celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day

  1. Read indigenous literature

    Some must-read books include “A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies” by Bartolomé de las Casas, “1491: New Revelations Of The Americas Before Columbus” by Charles C. Mann, “An Indigenous People's History Of The United States” by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, and “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown.

  2. Attend an event

    Attend an event hosted by a group of Native Americans or a Native American organization. Learn more about how you can be of assistance with any issues that the group is facing.

  3. Host a movie screening

    Watch a movie with your friends and have a discussion afterward. There are a plethora of films to choose from like “Dances with Wolves” (1990), “Songs My Brothers Taught Me” (2015), “Gather” (2020), and “Indian Horse” (2017).

Why Indigenous Peoples’ Day Is Important

  1. It celebrates the original inhabitants

    Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a holiday that celebrates the Native Americans, the original inhabitants of North America.

  2. It recognizes the indigenous cultures

    Indigenous Peoples’ Day honors the beautiful indigenous traditions, cultures, and lives all around the world.

  3. It stands in solidarity with the indigenous people

    We take a stand for and support the indigenous people on this day. We should also offer our support to those who invest and uplift the indigenous communities.

Indigenous Peoples' Day dates

Year Date Day
2022 October 10 Monday
2023 October 9 Monday
2024 October 14 Monday
2025 October 13 Monday
2026 October 12 Monday
U.S.