It’s a two-for-one holiday: Happy Canadian Thanksgiving and Indigenous Peoples Day!

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!”

A Cana­di­an Thanks­giv­ing cen­ter­piece (Pho­to: Christo­pher Porter, repro­duced under a Cre­ative Com­mons license)

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.


“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.

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:

Each mark­er on the map above shows the loca­tion of a fed­er­al­ly rec­og­nized trib­al com­mu­ni­ty in Wash­ing­ton State (Cour­tesy of Wash­ing­ton Tribes)

Again, Hap­py Thanks­giv­ing and Indige­nous Peo­ples Day!

Andrew Villeneuve

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