Today, our team at NPI is observing two holidays: Canadian Thanksgiving and Indigenous Peoples Day, both of which fall on the second Monday in October.
Unlike in the United States, Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated closer to harvest time. In its modern incarnation, dating back to 1957, it is celebrated in gratefulness for a bountiful harvest. (The United States, meanwhile, still has a month and a couple weeks to go before its Thanksgiving holiday will arrive.)
“Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the abundance of the fall harvest and to share nature’s bounty with our families, our friends and our communities,” British Columbia Premier John Horgan said in a statement. “It is a time to come together to give thanks for all that we enjoy and to help those in need.”
“We are blessed to live in a beautiful province of boundless opportunity. Our government is working hard to make sure everyone enjoys the benefits as we build a stronger British Columbia together.”
“This season, we have so many to thank as we continue the fight against COVID-19. We also owe thanks to those who battled forest fires, and many others who continue to serve on the front lines of the poisoned drug crisis. Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do.”
“I want to take this opportunity to also thank all those who volunteer to make their communities better and those who donate to food banks and other charities. Sharing makes our lives rich and meaningful.”
“To everyone celebrating, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!”
Canadian Thanksgiving is not a holiday recognized by the United States government, but that doesn’t mean Americans can’t keep it. If you ask us, the only thing better than Thanksgiving is two Thanksgivings! Every day is a good day to give thanks and enjoy a good meal in the company of family and friends.
Today, we are also celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day, which is recognized by many jurisdictions in the United States in place of Columbus Day.
This year, for the first time, Indigenous Peoples Day is being commemorated by the White House. President Joe Biden signed a proclamation marking the day last Friday, at the same time that he restored three national monuments.
The proclamation reads:
Since time immemorial, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians have built vibrant and diverse cultures — safeguarding land, language, spirit, knowledge, and tradition across the generations. 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.
Our country was conceived on a promise of equality and opportunity for all people — a promise that, despite the extraordinary progress we have made through the years, we have never fully lived up to.
That is especially true when it comes to upholding the rights and dignity of the Indigenous people who were here long before colonization of the Americas began.
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. We also recommit to supporting a new, brighter future of promise and equity for Tribal Nations — a future grounded in Tribal sovereignty and respect for the human rights of Indigenous people in the Americas and around the world.
In the first week of my Administration, I issued a memorandum reaffirming our Nation’s solemn trust and treaty obligations to American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal Nations and directed the heads of executive departments and agencies to engage in regular, meaningful, and robust consultation with Tribal officials.
It is a priority of my Administration to make respect for Tribal sovereignty and self-governance the cornerstone of Federal Indian policy. History demonstrates that Native American people — and our Nation as a whole — are best served when Tribal governments are empowered to lead their communities and when Federal officials listen to and work together with Tribal leaders when formulating Federal policy that affects Tribal Nations.
The contributions that Indigenous peoples have made throughout history — in public service, entrepreneurship, scholarship, the arts, and countless other fields — are integral to our Nation, our culture, and our society.
Indigenous peoples have served, and continue to serve, in the United States Armed Forces with distinction and honor — at one of the highest rates of any group — defending our security every day.
And Native Americans have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, working essential jobs and carrying us through our gravest moments.
Further, in recognition that the pandemic has harmed Indigenous peoples at an alarming and disproportionate rate, Native communities have led the way in connecting people with vaccination, boasting some of the highest rates of any racial or ethnic group.
The Federal Government has a solemn obligation to lift up and invest in the future of Indigenous people and empower Tribal Nations to govern their own communities and make their own decisions.
We must never forget the centuries-long campaign of violence, displacement, assimilation, and terror wrought upon Native communities and Tribal Nations throughout our country.
Today, we acknowledge the significant sacrifices made by Native peoples to this country — and recognize their many ongoing contributions to our Nation.
On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we honor America’s first inhabitants and the Tribal Nations that continue to thrive today. I encourage everyone to celebrate and recognize the many Indigenous communities and cultures that make up our great country.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 11th, 2021, as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.
I also direct that the flag of the United States be displayed on all public buildings on the appointed day in honor of our diverse history and the Indigenous peoples who contribute to shaping this Nation.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-sixth.
JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.
“On this Indigenous Peoples Day, we celebrate the contributions and resilience of America’s Native communities, and the work they have done today and every day to bring this country closer to our ideals,” said Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison and DNC Native American Caucus Chair Rion Ramirez.
“Democrats are committed to carrying forward the important work necessary to ensure dignity, sovereignty, and opportunity for our nation’s five hundred and seventy-four Federally Recognized Tribes.”
“The Biden-Harris administration has honored this commitment to uplift and support America’s Native communities from its very first week, when President Biden issued a memo prioritizing federal agencies’ consultation with Tribal Nations. The president also appointed Deb Haaland the first Native Cabinet secretary, and the American Rescue Plan includes the largest-ever investment of resources in Tribal communities in U.S. history.”
“The administration is working to address the issues that matter to Tribal communities, from the new Federal Boarding School Initiative to uncover the truth and help heal affected communities, to restoring federal protections to land and waters such as Bears Ears National Monument, which is sacred to Tribal Nations.”
“We will never forget the sacrifices, brutality, assimilation, and dislocation inflicted upon Native communities. Today, we honor the five hundred and seventy-four Tribal Nations and the significant contributions they have made to our country, and commit ourselves toward building a future marked by justice, promise, and equal opportunity for all.”
“As we take time to observe this Indigenous People’s Day, may we honor and celebrate the Native peoples that are such an integral part of our history, culture and future — especially here in Washington State,” said Senator Patty Murray.
“Importantly, I’m glad to see President Biden acknowledge the painful history and horrors Indigenous people have endured for generations through efforts to displace, assimilate, and eliminate Native cultures and communities in the first ever White House proclamation designating today officially as Indigenous Peoples Day.”
“As we recover from a pandemic that has led to devastating health and economic consequences in Indian Country, we must continue working to right the wrongs of our history by recognizing Indigenous peoples’ inherent sovereignty, honoring Tribal treaty rights, and making long overdue investments in Tribal communities — I will continue to stand firm as a voice for Washington state’s Tribal governments and people.”
White House recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day is a big deal, but Indigenous Peoples Day is not yet a paid federal holiday — and it ought to be.
While our team has no objection to honoring and celebrating Italian-American heritage, we should not have a holiday that honors Christopher Columbus. Columbus did not “discover” the Americas. Columbus’ voyages across the Atlantic resulted in pain, suffering, disease, enslavement, and death. That’s simply not a legacy deserving of honor or celebration. Honoring the peoples who have inhabited the Americas for millennia instead of one man who thought he could reach India by sailing westward (he was wrong) makes so much more sense.
Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have many tribal nations working to protect and safeguard the majesty of our region, from our mountains and river valleys to our salmon runs, orcas, and beautiful Salish Sea.
At the Washington Tribes website, you can learn more about each of the federally recognized tribal communities that have called this region home since time immemorial. There are more than two dozen:
Washington state is home to twenty-nine federally-recognized Indian tribes. Tribal governments are improving people’s lives, Indian and non-Indian alike, in communities from Neah Bay to Usk.
- Learn more about the economic impact of Washington Tribes in the new report: The Economic & Community Benefits of Tribes in Washington.
- Looking for classroom materials about Washington Tribes? Check out our 2018 Washington Indian Tribes Today newspaper insert.
Revenue from gaming and other tribal enterprises is tax revenue for tribal governments. The money is used to create jobs and business opportunities for all Washingtonians.
It helps pay for housing, health care, public safety, environmental/natural resource programs and transportation.
As tribal gaming money flows through the Washington economy, it generates hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues for local and state government. Tribal governments and their enterprises are a major factor in Washington’s economy today – generating more than 30,000 jobs and investing billions of dollars in goods and services, and on capital projects.
View a map of Washington’s federally recognized tribes:
Again, Happy Thanksgiving and Indigenous Peoples Day!