CELEBRATE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY

OCTOBER 11, 2021!

 

Indigenous Peoples Day falls on the second Monday of October (10/11, this year) and honors and celebrates the traditions and cultures of Indigenous peoples around the world.  It also calls for recognition of the destruction, genocide, and land theft committed against Native peoples and represents a call to action and a call to stand in solidarity with Native peoples.

In 1992, Berkeley was the first city in the U.S. to officially declare the holiday, and, in so doing, eliminated what was previously celebrated as Columbus Day.  While Columbus Day had been instituted to celebrate Italian heritage, it also hid the true and violent history of Columbus, who, like many explorers, engaged in acts of torture and oppression against Native Americans.

Today, at places around the world and in at least 14 U.S. states and over 130 U.S. cities, Indigenous Peoples Day is celebrated, although the name and date of the observation may differ from location to location.  Even as you read this article, additional places are considering embracing the holiday.

 

HOW THE HOLIDAY CAME TO BERKELEY

It’s an interesting story.  And, please note, this is a shortened version of a much larger story, since the movement to honor Indigenous peoples has an international and decades-long history,

As the year 1992 approached, plans were brewing in different parts of the world to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s arrival in the Americas.

In the U.S., President Reagan assembled the Christopher Columbus Quincentenary Jubilee Commission, which came up with the idea to have replicas of Columbus’s three ships sail along the East Coast and arrive in grand style in San Francisco.

In Quito, Ecuador, at the First Continental Conference on 500 Years of Indian Resistance, representatives from 120 Indian nations from every part of the Americans passed a resolution to transform Columbus Day, 1992, into an occasion to strengthen their process of continental unity and the struggle towards liberation.

Northern California attendees at the Quito summit brought the cause of counter-quincentennial planning back to Northern California, where a conference was held at sites in Davis and Oakland.   At that event, both the Bay Area Indian Alliance and the Resistance 500 were formed, the latter group eventually working with the Berkeley City Council to bring about the move to transform October 11 into Indigenous Peoples Day.

By the way, the Jubilee event planned by Reagan’s commission was cancelled.  As reported in a KQED news article, “The ship never sailed.”

 

SOME WAYS YOU CAN CELEBRATE THE 2021 HOLIDAY AND HONOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

 

  • Keep informed and up-to-date on local and national Indigenous issues and learn more about he Indigenous people who have continuously lived on Ohlone land by reading UUCB’s Honoring Indigenous Peoples blog.
  • Participate in local activities.
  • Attend this year’s Oct. 11 event in Albany, CA 3:30-4 pm—The Confederated Villages of Lisjan Flag Raising.
  • Visit Richmond’s Ookwe Park, at South 27th St. & Pierson Ave. in Marina Bay. The park honors the land’s Ohlone roots and features 11 granite boulders with symbols and stories, all carved by internationally acclaimed artist, Masayuki Nagase.
  • Be an ally in the landback movement—the local, national and international movement to return land to Indigenous peoples.
  • Learn about how an historic rainforest and other lands are being returned to Australia’s Indigenous peoples.
  • Become familiar with and support Oakland’s Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, an urban Indigenous women-led land trust that facilitates the return of Indigenous land to Indigenous people.
  • Pay Shuumi Land Tax, a voluntary contribution that non-Indigenous people living on the Confederated Villages of Lisjan’s territory can make to support the work of the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust. Lisjan territory is Ohlone land, which includes Berkeley, Oakland, Kensington, El Cerrito, Alameda, Piedmont and Emeryville.

 

“‘We recognize the people who stood here and protected this land and protected the Earth before…I think there’s responsibility to everyone in the United States to understand what land you’re standing on and to learn about the history of the place you occupy, to respect the ground you walk on.’”

Redhawk Cultural Director Cliff Matias, who is Quechua and Taíno

 

 

Helen Tinsley-Jones —  htinsleyjones@yahoo.com

The Honoring Indigenous Peoples Group