President Joe Biden became the first U.S president to commemorate Indigenous Peoples Day. The first ever act came in a presidential proclamation on Oct. 8 to celebrate the contributions of Native peoples to the United States.
Biden highlighted the resilience of the Indigenous peoples as well as their ability to overcome. Biden wrote “The contributions that Indigenous peoples have made throughout history – in public service, entrepreneurship, scholarship, the arts, and countless other fields – are integral to our nation, our culture, and our society.”
Biden continued saying, “Today, we acknowledge the significant sacrifices made by Native peoples to this country — and recognize their many ongoing contributions to our nation.”
The President then went on to reassure the Indigenous people that the current administration has a different stance than its predecessors. He explains saying “For generations, Federal policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures – 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.”
Biden also acknowledges Columbus’ discovery of the Americas as a death and destruction on native communities. He continues saying “Today, we also acknowledge the painful history of wrongs and atrocities that many European explorers inflicted on Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities.”
He goes on saying “It is a measure of our greatness as a nation that we do not seek to bury these shameful episodes of our past – that we face them honestly, we bring them to the light, and we do all we can to address them.”
The Biden administration however didn’t entail on whether or not they had plans on ending the previous holiday of Columbus Day.
Biden‘s press secretary, Jen Psaki said “I’m not aware of any discussion of ending that either, ending the prior federal holiday at this point, but I know that recognizing today as Indigenous Peoples’ Day is something that the President felt strongly about personally, he’s happy to be the first president to celebrate and to make it, the history of moving forward.”
Indigenous Peoples’ Day is set to be celebrated on Monday, Oct. 11, the same day as Columbus Day.
Read both proclamations here: