MN celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ day


Fair Use Image from Wikimedia Commons

INDIGENOUS PRIDE. Native Americans come together for a pow-wow circa 1930 in Grand Marais, MN. Indigenous peoples’ contributions to America cannot go unnoticed, and Indigenous Peoples’ day is one time to recognize them.

People across the state of Minnesota joined in celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day on October 11, 2021 in place of the recently controversial Columbus Day.

The holiday, which was officially recognized by Governor Walz in 2019, seeks to remember Native people who died due to colonization and genocide, and also to celebrate the contributions that Native people have made to the United States.

Minnesota hosts various celebrations for Indigenous Peoples’ day, and Intercultural Club plans to host their own celebration at SPA as well. (Clara McKoy)

This switch to celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day comes from the recognition that the legacy of Columbus isn’t a good one. As one Lakota activist put it: Columbus is seen as “the mascot of American colonialism in the Western Hemisphere.” For many Native peoples, stories of colonialism bring with them stories of trauma and genocide, as it was the colonization of the Americas that resulted in the death of millions of Native peoples and their cultures.

Increasingly more cities and states across the country are opting to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day over Columbus Day due to this dark history of Columbus and his colonization of the Western Hemisphere. The city of Minneapolis has been celebrating this holiday since 2014 when a unanimous City Council vote made the city the first in Minnesota to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day over Columbus Day. St. Paul followed suit in 2015, opting to recognize Indigenous Culture over the culture of colonization and genocide. As of 2020, Minnesota was one of 14 states plus the District of Columbia to celebrate or recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of or in addition to Columbus Day.

There’s just so much work to be done and I feel like just recognizing this day and recognizing the genocide that occurred in the US is a great first step

— Clea Gaitas Sur

This year, Pipestone National Monument, an important Minnesotan historical site, celebrated the holiday early on Saturday, October 9 with a self-guided luminary walk that included traditional Native music and dance. SPA will also host a celebration of this holiday on November 8, which will include a special guest speaker and Q&A panel planned by Intercultural Club. “We’re hoping by having an Indigenous speaker come in and actually talk to students that students will feel more and be able to encourage more change across the community,” Intercultural Club member Clea Gaitas Sur said. “There’s just so much work to be done and I feel like just recognizing this day and recognizing the genocide that occurred in the US is a great first step,” Gaitas Sur added.