President Biden announced the declaration of Indigenous Peoples Day on the White House website on the 8th (local time). “From time immemorial, Native Americans, Alaskans, and Native Hawaiians have built a diverse and vibrant culture from generation to generation,” Biden said in a statement.
He added that while the United States has made great progress in terms of equality and opportunity, it still lacks respect for the dignity and rights of indigenous peoples. “Federal policy has sought to systematically drive out and absorb indigenous peoples and eradicate indigenous cultures,” Biden said.“Indigenous peoples’ historical contributions in numerous fields, including public services, businesses, academics, and the arts, are inseparable from the nation, culture and society,” he said. “The federal government has a solemn obligation to invest in the future of Indigenous peoples and to enable Indigenous peoples to govern their communities and make their own decisions,” he said. “We honor the first inhabitants and indigenous peoples of a thriving America,” he said. “I encourage everyone to recognize and celebrate the indigenous cultures and communities that make up our great nation.” It commemorates the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the Americas on October 12, 1492. However, there are many voices criticizing the celebration of Columbus Day because of the colonial history that took place in this area after the discovery of Columbus. In 1992, Berkeley, California, declared Columbus Day as Aboriginal Day. But this is the first time a U.S. president has publicly declared Indigenous Peoples Day. Former President Donald Trump, in his Columbus Day proclamation last year, called Columbus a “brave hero.”
Meanwhile, President Biden issued a separate Proclamation for Columbus Day in addition to the Proclamation for Indigenous Peoples Day. In his Columbus Day proclamation, President Biden said: “Today we acknowledge the injustice and cruelty inflicted on indigenous peoples and indigenous communities by many European explorers.”
The AP said the two proclamations hinted at President Biden’s attempt to shift the focus of federal holidays away from Columbus to indigenous contributions. Internet media outlet Axios said that President Biden’s behavior is different from that of former President Trump, who criticized radical activists on Columbus Day last year.
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