October 11 is Indigenous Peoples’ Day
This official holiday honors Native American peoples and their histories and cultures. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is celebrated in hundreds of communities across the country. In 1992, coinciding with the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Columbus — and with 500 years of Indigenous resistance to colonialism and genocide — Berkeley, California became the first community to make Indigenous Peoples’ Day an official holiday. In 2015, Corvallis was the first city in Oregon (along with Portland) to adopt the holiday. The Grand Ronde Tribal Council also established the holiday in 2015.
This year, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 2526 designating the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The wording of the bill recognizes that Columbus’ arrival in the Americas opened the door to “heinous crimes against humanity” such as the transatlantic slave trade and genocide against Indigenous people. The bill also acknowledges “the significant contributions to this state of Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribal nations, as well as those of many Native Americans from tribal nations across the country” and commits to “greater access and opportunity for continued contribution by Indigenous People.” You can read the full text of the bill. A watershed event for declaring an Indigenous Peoples’ Day was the 1977 International NGO Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas. Delegates to the 1977 Geneva Conference wrote a draft declaration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day that was later used by cities and states. The 1977 Geneva Conference also produced the first draft of what became the landmark 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.