Fortunately, the number of states and municipalities rejecting Columbus Day in favor of honoring Indigenous Peoples Day, like Minnesota; Alaska; Vermont; and Somerville, Massachusetts, is growing. Hawaii celebrates Discoverers’ Day, and South Dakota has Native American Day. Honoring the millions of people who lived here long before and after Columbus’ non-discovery instead of the genocidal rapist himself feels like a no-brainer. It counters the act of forgetting and rendering indigenous peoples invisible.
Acknowledgment is a simple, powerful way of showing respect and a step toward correcting the stories and practices that erase Indigenous people’s history and culture and toward inviting and honoring the truth. Imagine this practice widely adopted: imagine cultural venues, classrooms, conference settings, places of worship, sports stadiums, and town halls, acknowledging traditional lands. Millions would be exposed—many for the first time—to the names of the traditional Indigenous inhabitants of the lands they are on, inspiring them to ongoing awareness and action.
Not all of us are leaders of states, cities, or events, but we can do our part: look up whose land we’re on right now. Use it as an opportunity to consider how colonization has contributed to where we are today. People in North America can use the map on native-land.ca to find out whose native land they’re on, with information about those people. The site also features a useful guide to help visitors think critically about the information at hand.
The map says I am on the occupied land of the Gabrielino/Tongva Nation. The tribe has been indigenous to the Los Angeles Basin for 7,000 years. Yet the Gabrielino-Tongva write that they are one of two tribes that don’t have federal recognition, in spite of being state-recognized. They sued the government for it earlier this year.
Whose land are you on? What can you learn about their history and present?
Learn more about the value of land acknowledgment by checking out the #HonorNativeLand campaign and watching the official video here:
Happy Indigenous Peoples Day! And remember: