(Trends Wide) — On Friday, President Joe Biden issued a proclamation to mark Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and he is the first US president to do so, the White House said.
“The contributions that indigenous peoples have made throughout history, in public service, entrepreneurship, scholarship, the arts, and many other fields, are an integral part of our nation, our culture, and our society,” he wrote Biden in the proclamation. “Today, we recognize the important sacrifices made by indigenous peoples to this country, and we acknowledge their many continuing contributions to our nation.”
Biden also marked a turnaround from previous administrations in his proclamation of Columbus Day, which honors the explorer Christopher Columbus. In that proclamation, the president recognized the death and destruction caused to native communities after Columbus traveled to North America in the late 16th century, ushering in an era of European exploration of the Western Hemisphere.
“Today, we also recognize the painful history of grievances and atrocities that many European explorers inflicted on tribal nations and indigenous communities. It is a measure of our greatness as a Nation that we do not seek to bury these shameful episodes from our past – that we face them honestly. , we brought them out and do our best to address them, “Biden wrote.
More than 100 cities – including Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, Phoenix, San Francisco – and several states – including Minnesota, Alaska, Vermont, and Oregon – have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day, choosing instead to recognize the native populations that were displaced and decimated after Columbus and other European explorers reached the continent. Berkeley, California, was the first city to adopt Indigenous Peoples Day, in 1992.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that Friday’s announcement did not imply ending Columbus Day as a federal holiday.
“Well, today is both Columbus Day, from now on … and Indigenous Peoples Day,” Psaki said. “I’m not aware of any discussion about ending that either, ending the previous federal holiday at this time, but I know that recognizing today as Indigenous Peoples’ Day is something that the president felt a lot personally, he’s happy to be. the first president to celebrate and turn it into, the story of moving on. “
As a candidate, Biden recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day, drawing the ire of former President Donald Trump.
“He wants to change the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day,” Trump told supporters in Michigan during a campaign rally last October. “So he wants to change it to Indigenous Peoples Day. Uh, not while I’m president.”