Native American Day for Kansas
President Joe Biden on Oct. 8 issued the first-ever presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The day was observed Oct. 11, along with Columbus Day, which is a national holiday. Native Americans reportedly have campaigned for years for local and national days in recognition of the country’s indigenous peoples.
Kansas needs a formally recognized Native American Day, in my opinion.
“For generations, federal policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures,” President Biden wrote in the Indigenous Peoples’ Day proclamation. “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.”
In a separate proclamation on Columbus Day, Biden praised the role of Italian Americans in U.S. society, but also referenced the violence and harm that Columbus and other explorers of that time brought about on the Americas.
“Today, we also acknowledge the painful history of wrongs and atrocities that many European explorers inflicted on Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities,” Biden wrote. “It is a measure of our greatness as a nation that we do not seek to bury these shameful episodes of our past — that we face them honestly, we bring them to the light, and we do all we can to address them.”
Who are indigenous peoples? It is estimated that there are more than 370 million indigenous people spread across 70 countries worldwide, according to the United Nations.
Practicing unique traditions, they retain social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live.
Spread across the world from the Arctic to the South Pacific, they are the descendants - according to a common definition - of those who inhabited a country or a geographical region at the time when people of different cultures or ethnic origins arrived.
Among the indigenous peoples are those of the Americas (for example, the Lakota in the U.S., the Mayas in Guatemala or the Aymaras in Bolivia), the Inuit and Aleutians of the circumpolar region, the Saami of northern Europe, the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders of Australia and the Maori of New Zealand.
These and most other indigenous peoples have retained distinct characteristics which are clearly different from those of other segments of the national populations.
Native American Day is a different holiday observed in several states in celebration of Native American culture.
In California and Nevada, the holiday is celebrated on the fourth Friday of September, whereas in South Dakota and Wisconsin, it falls on the second Monday of October.
Within each of these states, Native American Day honors the cultural contributions of Native American communities to the respective state’s history, as well as to the overall country.
The state of Washington celebrates Native American Heritage Day on the Friday immediately following the fourth Thursday in November. The state of Tennessee observes a similar American Indian Day each year on the fourth Monday of September.
Vermont, Alaska, Iowa, Maine, Minnestoa, North Carolina and Oregon also celebrate with Native American Day. With its rich Native American history and heritage, why doesn’t Kansas?