On Friday, October 8, President Joe Biden became the first president to commemorate the holiday on October 11 of this year created to acknowledge the natives in the country prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. The day, the second Monday of October, will also continue to be recognized as Columbus Day.
“Since time immemorial, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians have built vibrant and diverse cultures – safeguarding land, language, spirit, knowledge, and tradition across generations. 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,” Biden said in the Indigenous Peoples’ Day proclamation. “That is especially true when it comes to upholding the rights and dignity of the Indigenous people who were here long before colonization of the Americas began.”
He continued by saying, ” For generations, federal policies systemically 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 they have made on every aspect of American society.”
While speaking on Columbus Day in a separate statement, Biden noted that the legacy of Columbus by noting the many Italian Americans who “enrich our country’s traditions and culture and make lasting contributions to our Nation.”
In the closing of his Columbus Day proclamation, he was able to bring the two together. “Let this day be one of reflection – on America’s spirit of exploration, on the courage and contributions of Italian Americans throughout the generations, on the dignity and resilience of Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities, and on the work that remains ahead of us to fulfill the promise of our Nation for all.”