Alaska renames Columbus Day National Indigenous People’s Day

The federal Columbus Day holiday was officially renamed Indigenous Peoples Day in Alaska on Monday, after Gov. Bill Walker issued an executive proclamation announcing the change.

The decision was announced to the public during the First Alaskans Institute Elders and Youth Conference in Anchorage by Liz Medicine Crow, president and CEO of the institute, the Alaska Dispatch News reported Monday. Medicine Crow is originally from Kake.

As part of the proclamation, Walker wrote: “I … encourage all Alaskans to celebrate the thriving cultures and values of the Indigenous Peoples of our region and to continue efforts to promote the well-being and growth of Alaska’s Indigenous community.”

The announcement followed similar changes in cities across the country, including Albuquerque; Portland, Oregon; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Olympia, Washington, according to an Associated Press report.

South Dakota renamed Columbus Day as Native American Day in 1990, and Berkeley, California, has observed Indigenous Peoples Day since 1992.

Following is the full text of Walker’s proclamation, posted at http://gov.alaska.gov/Walker/press-room/full-proclamation.html?pr=7296:

 

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY

Effective Date: Monday, October 12th, 2015

WHEREAS, the Indigenous Peoples of the lands that would later become known as Alaska have occupied these lands since time immemorial, and Alaska is built upon the homelands and communities of the Indigenous Peoples of this region, without whom the building of the state would not be possible; and

WHEREAS, we value the many contributions made to our communities through Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge, labor, technology, science, philosophy, arts, and the deep cultural contribution that has substantially shaped the character of Alaska; and

WHEREAS, the State recognizes the fact that Alaska is one “big village,” with over 16 percent of the State population having indigenous heritage – the highest percentage among all the United States; and

WHEREAS, the State opposes systematic racism toward Indigenous Peoples of Alaska or any Alaskans of any origin and promotes policies and practices that reflect the experiences of Indigenous Peoples, ensure greater access and opportunity, and honor our nation’s indigenous roots, history, and contributions; and

WHEREAS, Indigenous Peoples’ Day was first proposed in 1977 by a delegation of Native Nations to the United Nations sponsored International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas; and

WHEREAS, in 2011 the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, representing 59 Tribes from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Northern California, Western Montana, and some Alaskan Tribes, passed resolution #11-57 to “Support to Change Columbus Day (2nd Monday of October) to Indigenous Peoples’ Day;” and

WHEREAS, the State of Alaska joins a growing number of cities that have recognized the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples Day, creating an opportunity to promote appreciation, tolerance, understanding, friendship, and partnerships among Indigenous Peoples and all Alaskans.

NOW THEREFORE, I, Bill Walker, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF ALASKA, do hereby proclaim October 12, 2015 as: Indigenous Peoples Day in Alaska, and encourage all Alaskans to celebrate the thriving cultures and values of the Indigenous Peoples of our region and to continue efforts to promote the well-being and growth of Alaska’s Indigenous community.

Dated: October 9, 2015

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