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The Student News Site of Rochester Adams High School

The Adams Kilt

The Student News Site of Rochester Adams High School

The Adams Kilt

October 9th: What Are We Celebrating?

Indigenous Peoples Day occurs on the second Monday of October (Photo Credit: Channel 19 News ABC)

During last weekend, Adams High School had a day off for an often under appreciated national holiday. Indigenous Peoples’ Day, formerly known as Columbus Day, is a day founded to celebrate the history and struggles of American Indigenous people. It is important to be informed of the background of the holiday, so we can honor a culture that is frequently unrecognized. 

In 1977, an activist group called the International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas convened to discuss alternatives to Columbus Day. The members argued that Christopher Columbus should not be honored for his brutal actions–enslavement, torture, and the burning of villages–to the indigenous people he encountered. Instead, they proposed the day be dedicated to honoring the history of Indigenous people. 

In 1989, South Dakota became the first state to incorporate the holiday, and in 1992, Berkeley, California became one of the first cities to officially adopt Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The publicity of the new holiday caused many cities to follow quickly after Berkeley. The holiday was just recently adopted nationally last October by President Biden, but the message has been present in the country for decades. 

So why is this important? Native Americans living in America explain that their history has often been whitewashed and even completely ignored. This holiday is an attempt to acknowledge the important history of this group of people. Although the holiday does not have an official definition, many Natives have an interpretation of what it means to them.

“It can be a day of reflection of our history in the United States, the role Native people have played in it, the impacts that history has had on native people and communities, and also a day to gain some understanding of the diversity of Indigenous peoples,” said Mandy Van Heuvlen, a coordinator at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian and a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux. 

There are currently over 6.8 million Americans that identify as Native American who are underrepresented in America. One of the reasons for this underrepresentation is that public schools barely touch Indigenous culture in history classes. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a step in the right direction. Because of this holiday, teachers are starting to incorporate more lessons into their curriculum. 

“We have a whole section when we talk about it…we talk about the history of [Indigenous people], the impact the Columbian Exchange and contact had on them, and where they are at now,” said Mr. Porter, an Adams High School AP U.S. History teacher. 

The importance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day is apparent, and it is great to see history teachers at Adams honoring the day. Even though the day has already passed, it is important to continue to reflect. By learning and understanding the culture, Adams students can build a more inclusive future for our generation.

A Native American woman performs a pow-wow during Indigenous Peoples’ Day to share the culture (Photo Credit: PBS News/Eduardo Munoz)
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Emma Wittkopp, Writer
Emma Wittkopp is a Senior at Adams High School, and this is her second year writing for The Kilt. She is part of Key Club and UNICEF Club at Adams High School, and also dances competitively. In her free time, Emma likes to read, listen to music, and hang out with friends. Emma is very excited to be a part of the Kilt this year!

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