The Importance of Indigenous People’s Day

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The Importance of Indigenous People’s Day

Bryanna Martinez, Assistant Opinion Editor

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With certain holidays, we honor a person or commemorate a special day. As of this year, California  recognizes a new holiday, Indigenous Peoples’ Day.  Such a tradition has been introduced in order to bring awareness regarding our nation’s history.

Columbus Day – Oct. 9 – is a holiday with some insignificance, only known for another day off or a day to recall Christopher Columbus’ “sailing the ocean blue in 1492 with the Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria.”  Little did our history books teach us that Columbus and his men began a genocide of indigenous people in the Bahamas as he traded spices. Maybe there should be a reconsideration as to who we celebrate on this day and why?

Columbus Day’s introduction came when the Knights of Columbus and then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the holiday to “honor” Christopher Columbus.

Years later, in January 2013, there was a bill in favor of Native American Day in California, but it did not pass; however, in August 2017, Los Angeles City Council adopted the holiday, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, to be celebrated on Sept. 22.

The reason I desire that Indigenous Peoples’ Day establish significance is because some of the younger generation have little to no knowledge of Native Americans and their history as the first people to live in the United States. Younger generations question the existence of Native Americans and their whereabouts in this country.

On a personal note, about a year ago, my seven-year-old brother’s classmate said, “Native Americans do not exist, they all died.” My brother explained that my family is part Native American.

My heritage not only consists of Mexican-American ancestry on both sides, but also that of Native American on my maternal grandfather’s side — his grandmother was from the Apache Nation. My great-great-grandmother survived a genocide, whilst her family suffered being slaughtered at the hands of non-Native Americans.  She was hidden at the age of 12 and later adopted by a Spanish family who found her on the side of the road.

I am not suggesting to get rid of Columbus Day but rather to reconsider the person we are “honoring” and why.

Yes, Native Americans are real and are proud.  That is why they deserve to be honored through this newly created holiday.

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