Re-thinking Columbus: A Call to Celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Erstwhile’s Alessandra Link invites you to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day. She offers up a small serving of worthwhile reads on Native American pasts and presents. What are your favorite works in Indigenous history/contemporary life? Share them below and continue the conversation.

This past Saturday the annual Columbus Day parade circled through Denver, led by “dignitaries” from the city’s Italian community. Colorado was one of the first states to make Columbus Day an official holiday in 1907, holding the first parade in 1909.

I, for one, wasn’t there. Instead, today I join the many Americans celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day. State and local governments in select corners of the country (South Dakota, Minneapolis, and Seattle) are opting to celebrate Native American peoples of past and present. It is a holiday that asks all Americans to make connections between the violent history initiated by Columbus and the many issues facing Native communities today—a cognitive exercise non-Indians do not do nearly enough of, according to a recent report.

Kwakiutl Totem, photograph by author

In honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, consider reading some of the latest news (Indian Country Today, Native American Times) in Indian Country. Learn about cultural appropriation and stereotypes of Indigenous peoples from Dr. K (Native Appropriations). Enjoy this short history of the Idle No More Movement (BlogWest), or check out Bunky Echo-Hawk’s artwork. Also consider donating to organizations assisting Indigenous communities, such as the Native American Rights Fund (based in Colorado), the Lakota People’s Law Project, and Idle No More.

I’ve also put together this short list of my favorite books on Indigenous history/culture (in no particular order).

Keith Basso, Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language Among the Western Apache

Philip Deloria, Indians in Unexpected Places and Playing Indian 

Coll Thrush, Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place

Ari Kelman, A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek 

Elizabeth Fenn, Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People

Margaret Jacobs, White Mother to a Dark Race and (although I haven’t read it yet) A Generation Removed

Noenoe K. Silva, Aloha Betrayed: Native Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism 

Vine Deloria, Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto

and anything by Sherman Alexie.

Share your own list to continue the conversation. Leave it in the comments section below, post it to your blog, or share it on social media.

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2 thoughts on “Re-thinking Columbus: A Call to Celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day

  1. Pingback: Myth, History, and Turkey | Erstwhile

  2. Pingback: Indigenous History with Erstwhile | Erstwhile: A History Blog

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