Oct 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden becomes first president to commemorate Indigenous Peoples Day

Picture of President Biden speaking behind a podium

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden on Friday became the first president to issue an official proclamation commemorating Indigenous Peoples Day.

The big picture: Biden's proclamation boosts efforts looking to shift the focus of the federal holiday celebrating Christopher Columbus to the contributions of Native Americans, AP reports.

  • He made an earlier proclamation for Columbus Day where he acknowledged "the painful history of wrongs and atrocities that many European explorers inflicted on Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities."

Flashback: Biden's position differs from that taken by former President Trump, who last year denounced "radical activists [that] have sought to undermine Christopher Columbus’s legacy," also referring to people like Columbus as "intrepid heroes."

What he's saying: "On Indigenous Peoples' Day, our Nation celebrates the invaluable contributions and resilience of Indigenous peoples, recognizes their inherent sovereignty, and commits to honoring the Federal Government's trust and treaty obligations to Tribal Nations," Biden said.

  • "For generations, Federal policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures. Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples’ resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society," he added.
  • "The contributions that Indigenous peoples have made throughout history ... are integral to our Nation, our culture, and our society."
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