Indigenous Peoples Day honors Indigenous people and cultures past and and present and brings public awareness to the modern-day presence in the community of Native people from throughout the Americas.
Many non-Native people continue to believe that Native people all live on reservations, even though about 75% do not.
By changing the holiday from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day, the holiday recognizes the historic and ongoing painful impacts that the arrival in the Americas of Columbus and other European colonists had on Indigenous people.
Enacting an officially recognized Indigenous Peoples Day would shed light on the history of European colonialism and Indigenous genocide, which still impacts Native peoples today:
- Native Americans have disproportionately higher rates of poverty, unemployment, and incarceration.
- Native youth have the highest suicide rate in the US, more than 3 times the national average.
- Nationally, Native students have the highest drop-out rates and more than 1/3 of Native students will not complete high school. Native students are also disproportionately likely to be disciplined, suspended and expelled from school.
- Native Americans have a shorter life expectancy than the rest of the population, partly because of less access to quality health care and inadequate funding for health programs.
- Violence and assault are common for Native women. One in three Indigenous women reports having been raped in their lifetime.
- Native people nationally are 38% more likely to be incarcerated than the general population, and are more likely than any other racial group to be killed by police, according to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice.
- Up until the 1980s and 1990s, thousands of Native children in the US & Canada were removed from their families and sent to “Indian Boarding Schools” where they were forced to assimilate to European standards of living, which often included beatings and psychological and sexual abuse for infractions such as speaking their tribal language. Native families & tribal communities suffer intergenerational trauma as a result.
- Indigenous peoples are virtually erased in mainstream media, government statistics, and in many discussions of equity and racism.
- Indigenous peoples continue to be subjected to multiple racial stereotypes and slurs, including racist sports team names and mascots.