Monday, October 10th is Columbus Day in most states, but in some states it is known as Indigenous Peoples Day.
Recognition by the President
On October 8, 2021, President Joe Biden became the first Supreme Commander to officially recognize Indigenous Peoples Day by issuing a proclamation celebrating the upcoming holiday. The proclamation states, “On Indigenous Peoples Day, our nation celebrates the invaluable contributions and resilience of indigenous peoples, recognizes their inherent sovereignty, and pledges to honor the federal government’s trust and treaty obligations to tribal nations.”
In 1990, Congress passed and President George HW Bush signed a joint resolution designating November as the first National American Indian Heritage Month.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day was first proposed during a United Nations conference in 1977, when members of the community reported experiencing discrimination. It was introduced in Berkeley, California in 1992. The map below shows which states officially celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day and which celebrate it by proclamation.
Columbus still there
Columbus Day is still a federal holiday and Indigenous Peoples Day is not, but 10 states celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day by proclamation: Arizona, California, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington, DC
Ten states officially celebrate it: Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota and Vermont.
It is generally accepted that the Paleo-Indians, the ancestors of the Native Americans, followed animal herds from Siberia to Alaska via Beringia, a land bridge connecting Asia and North America.
The Pleistocene, better known as the Ice Age, began about 1.75 million years ago and ended just 10,000 years ago. While the name suggests that it was a time of endless winter for Earth, it was not. The Earth’s climate experienced fluctuations of warm and cool temperatures that could last for thousands of years.
Towards the end of the ice age, the earth experienced persistent cold conditions. Glaciers began to form in the northern region of the earth. As more and more of the Earth’s water became trapped in glaciers, sea levels began to fall. The land below the Bering Strait was uncovered, creating a flat, grassy, treeless plain that connected Asia to North America.
When the Ice Age ended and the earth began to warm, glaciers melted and sea levels rose. Beringia submerged, but not entirely.
A look at the years
How long ago indigenous cultures inhabited North America is debated by scholars, but some estimates place it at least 15,000 years ago. This chart has lines representing 100 years and shows how long natives (roughly 12,000 BC) have been settled to the present day.
Some of the oldest established cultures
The questions that archeology finds difficult to explain: When and how was North America settled? Did the first humans cross the land bridge 15,000 years ago? Or on earlier land bridges that formed 30,000 years ago, before sea levels rose again? Here are some of the oldest known cultures in North America:
Estimated Era: 12000-9500 BC
Location: United States, Mexico and Central America
The Clovis, one of the oldest known groups, most likely arrived on the continent from Asia via the Bering Strait. While anthropologists doubt they were the first humans here, they are still ancestors of several modern tribes. Historians believed for a time that Clovis people hunted mammoths with specially constructed spearheads. Like many prehistoric cultures, the Clovis later dispersed and evolved into other distinct groups.
Estimated First Appearance: 12000-10000 BC
Location: American Southwest
Several modern tribes are believed to have descended from the ancestral Puebloans, including the Hopi, Zuni, Santa Ana, Santa Felipe, Cochiti, and Nambe.
They settled primarily in the Southwest, living as farmers and using adobe to build their multi-story and multi-room Pueblo homes. Occupying desert regions in what later became the United States and parts of Mexico, their lives depended on elaborate irrigation systems and rain rituals, depending on how arid the climate was.
Until the arrival of Christopher Columbus: No one knows exactly how many people lived in the western hemisphere, but the number could have been in the millions.
At least 2,000 different languages were spoken in America in 1492.
The term Indian comes from Columbus, who believed he had arrived in the East Indies on his quest for India. This led to the collective term Indies and Indians (Spanish: indios; Portuguese: índios; French: indiens; Dutch: indianen).
According to UCLA’s resources on Native American and Native American affairs: Indigenous peoples refers to a group of Indigenous peoples with a common national identity, such as “Navajo” or “Sami,” and is the equivalent of “the American people.”
Native American and American Indian are terms used to refer to peoples who lived in what is now the United States before European contact. American Indian has a specific legal context as the Federal Indian Law branch uses this terminology. American Indian is also used by the US Office of Management and Budget through the US Census Bureau.
Whenever possible, it is best to use the name of a specific indigenous community or nation of a person.
In 2020, the number of people who identified themselves as Native Americans and Alaska Natives alone and in combination with another race was 9.7 million, up from 5.2 million in 2010. They now make up 2.9% of the U.S. population off.
Over the past decade, they’ve seen a 160% increase, which experts believe is due to several factors, including more multiracial families, the struggle Latinos face with racial self-identification, and Americans acknowledging their heritage want to accept, even if they are not recognized as members of the tribe.
The ability to identify as AIAN in combination with another race was added in 2000.
The 2020 census added Maya and Aztec as possible suggestions for written answers to the American Indian category. This clarified that all indigenous tribes are included in this category, not just US-based tribes. Hispanic respondents who also indicated an Indigenous identity accounted for 1.8 million of the increase in people choosing AIAN.
Sources: National Park Service, US Census, UCLA, History.com, US Department of Health and Human Services, National Congress of American Indians, American Indian History Timeline by Shana Brown, The Associated Press
https://www.ocregister.com/2022/10/07/heres-why-some-want-indigenous-peoples-day-to-be-a-federal-holiday/ This is why some want Indigenous Peoples Day to be a federal holiday – Orange County Register