Yareli Perez Ortiz
On Oct. 12, Gov. Gavin Newsom officially declared Indigenous People’s Day in the state of California.
Indigenous People’s Day is a holiday that celebrates the history and culture of Native Americans. Over the course of the past few years, it was discovered that Christopher Columbus, in fact, did not discover America, but rather exploited it. The facts behind Columbus being a purveyor of enslavement and responsible for the violent treatment of Arawak and Taino people led to individuals thinking that it was Native Americans who deserved their own day of appreciation. Instead of being known for the discovery of America, Columbus is now tied to the European colonization that took place in the Americas.
After Berkeley became the first to recognize Indigenous People’s Day in 1992, many cities in California, including Santa Cruz and Richmond, quickly followed.
As a member of the Latinx community, who is also a minority group, giving Native Americans their well-deserved day is a win not only for them, but for all minority groups.
The fight that Native Americans have fought to simply stay in their homeland is infuriating. For centuries, Native Americans have had to defend themselves and their land from intruders. From the first six natives being seized by Columbus to serve him to Native American tribes gaining benefits that are included in the Bill of Rights, their fight for freedom has never ended. The lives lost in all the battles, the heartache of moving from one place to another and starting anew – Native Americans are truly a force to be reckoned with.
Native Americans have a way of living resourcefully. Their most valuable contribution is their love for nature. Native Americans are well known for their deep respect for the ecosystem they inhabit. They’ve used hunting as a resource, (unlike many Americans who have turned it into a sport), grown their own food and developed their own products. Their organic way of living in harmony with their surroundings is something Americans, today, lack.
As we step further into 2020, earning recognition for minority groups is a huge step towards understanding all that minority groups stand for.. This year alone, there has been much controversy when it comes to minority groups, but with a win this big, all that matters is the recognition Native Americans are receiving.
Indigenous People’s Day is a day to come together and celebrate all that Native Americans have to offer. Their contributions that have made America what it is today will always be remembered. For not only have they suffered tremendously, but they have never gone down without a fight. They used their perseverance to their advantage and stood their ground. As we move forward in history, let this be a day to remember – a day where a group of people who have felt oppression all their lives are finally seen and celebrated.
Not only do we celebrate Native Americans in hopes of expanding the appreciation for diversity in America, but we learn to respect all that this group has suffered to get to where they are today.