The move to observe America’s Indigenous populations first began over 40 years ago, in 1977, by participants at the United Nations International Conference on Discrimination against Indigenous Populations in the Americas.

And, with each passing year, an increasing number of people are choosing Columbus Day and Thanksgiving to honor Native Americans, as their land and communities were devastated by the very things these federal holidays celebrate.

Last year, President Joe Biden made history by being the first president to issue an official proclamation to observe Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day 

“Since time immemorial, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians have built vibrant and diverse cultures — safeguarding land, language, spirit, knowledge, and tradition across the generations,” Biden said in the proclamation.

“On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, our Nation celebrates the invaluable contributions and resilience of Indigenous peoples, recognizes their inherent sovereignty, and commits to honoring the Federal Government’s trust and treaty obligations to Tribal Nations.”

He added that for generations, Federal policies sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures.  “Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples’ resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society,” he said.

“We also recommit to supporting a new, brighter future of promise and equity for Tribal Nations — a future grounded in Tribal sovereignty and respect for the human rights of Indigenous people in the Americas and around the world.”

Brooklyn, which is on Lenapehoking, or the homeland of the Lenape, has a variety of local ways to honor the day.

Brooklyn Children’s Museum will be celebrating Indigenous histories, cultures and heritages with storytelling, performance, games and art-making. The museum is partnering with the National Museum of the American Indian and North American Indigenous Center of New York for the day of programming. You can purchase tickets for the day here.

Later in the week, Brooklyn Public Library will mark Indigenous Peoples’ Day with a series of programming including a film festival and a talk by best-selling Aboriginal author and activist Tony Birch.

BPL’s Brooklyn Heights Library will show one movie a day by Indigenous filmmakers from Oct. 11 to Oct. 15. All movies are free and no reservation is required. For more information on the movies, click here.

Birch will join from Australia via video call for an in-person talk about his award-winning book, “White Girl,” on Oct. 14 at the Brooklyn Heights Library. More information is here.

In addition, the Library will present an event on October 13 at 7:00pm for the spring 2022 Lenapehoking exhibition celebrating the release of the “Lenapehoking Anthology,” which includes historical essays, interviews, poems and paintings by leading Lenape and other Indigenous scholars, writers, composers and artists.

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