While most of the nation observes Columbus Day on Monday, Oct. 12, the City of Berkeley, CA will observe a public holiday called “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”
Berkeley has celebrated the alternative to Columbus Day since 1992, kicking off a national and global trend to recognize the victims of European colonialism and imperial expansion and to downplay the accomplishment of explorers who brought their civilization to the New World.
Arthur Jacobs of Native News Online reported glowingly: “Looking at our past can horrify us. The crimes done by the human race, the genocide that has been committed against people in the name of someone else’s so-called progress. Yet celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day in Berkeley is a chance where the truth shines like the morning sun peaking over the land and gets stronger and stronger with each passing moment.”
On Saturday, Berkeley hosted a day-long powwow featuring Native American cultural traditions. Among the scheduled events were “contest dancing, intertribal dancing, a giveaway, honor songs and an owl dance contest,” the Contra Costa Times noted.
In addition to Berkeley, several other U.S. cities will be celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day, or some version thereof: “As the U.S. observes Columbus Day on Monday, it will also be Indigenous Peoples Day in at least nine cities for the first time this year, including Albuquerque; Portland, Oregon; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Olympia, Washington,” the Associated Press reports. Elsewhere, activists plan sporadic protests of Columbus Day.
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who claims Cherokee ancestry despite the absence of substantiating evidence, has participated in Columbus Day parades in the past. This year, Warren may be focusing on the possibility of joining the presidential campaign if Vice President Joe Biden, who is widely expected to run, adds her as his running mate. She would be only the second Native American so chosen, after Republican Charles Curtis.