Indigenous Peoples’ Day will be timed to coincide with the celebration of Columbus Day.
On Friday, President Joe Biden signed a decree on the celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day. According to the decree, this day will be celebrated on October 11, simultaneously with Columbus Day, a U.S. federal holiday established by Congress.
Biden’s decision gives impetus to the initiative to reorient the celebration of Christopher Columbus Day in favor of a holiday dedicated to the indigenous peoples of the United States.
“For generations, the internal policy [of the United States] has been aimed at assimilation and displacement of indigenous peoples, the eradication of their cultures,” Biden wrote in the decree proclaiming Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
“Today, we recognize the resilience and strength of [representatives of] indigenous peoples, as well as the immeasurable positive impact they have had on all aspects of American society.”
Biden stressed that he highly appreciates the contribution of Italian Americans to society, who traditionally consider Columbus Day a holiday of their diaspora. Still, at the same time, the U.S. president urges not to forget about the violence and harm that Columbus and other European colonists brought to America.
On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus landed in what is now the Bahamas. The subsequent series of European expeditions to the American continent was accompanied by the mass extermination of the indigenous population.
“The measure of our greatness as a nation is that we do not seek to turn a blind eye to shameful episodes of the past,” Biden stressed.
When asked by reporters whether steps will be taken to cancel the celebration of Columbus Day, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that at the moment, she “has no forecasts.”
John Echohawk, Executive Director of the Native American Rights Foundation, welcomed the President’s decision to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day.