Alaska first state to declare Indigenous Peoples Day

Olin Tezcatlipoca from the Mexica Movement speaks to demonstrators in front of a statue of Christopher Columbus during a protest against Columbus Day in Grand Park, Los Angeles, California on October 11, 2015. (Mark Ralston /AFP/Getty Images)
Olin Tezcatlipoca from the Mexica Movement speaks to demonstrators in front of a statue of Christopher Columbus during a protest against Columbus Day in Grand Park, Los Angeles, California on October 11, 2015. (Mark Ralston /AFP/Getty Images)
Alaska is now the first state to recognize the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day.

Governor Bill Walker signed the proclamation this morning and First Alaskans President Liz Medicine Crow made the announcement at the Elders and Youth Conference.

“Well moments ago,” she told the crowd. “The inaugural Indigenous Peoples Day of Alaska!”

The declaration came on the heels of a similar announcement by Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz. The city now also recognizes the holiday.

‘Historic moment’

The move is largely symbolic, Columbus Day is a federal holiday and state and city employees are required to report to work. But First Alaskans board member and former state lawmaker Willie Hensley says the declaration is important.

“This is a historic moment considering all the trials and tribulations our people have experienced over time. A lot of not so good stuff, historically speaking. But finally, after all these years of work by a lot of people and a lot of understanding by people who didn’t know a lot about our people, we’re beginning to understand each other a little bit better.”

At least nine other cities nationwide recognize Indigenous Peoples Day. And South Dakota and a few other states have replaced Columbus Day with Native American Day.

Related stories from around the North:

Finland:  Language lecturer voted Finland’s Sámi of the Year, Yle News

Greenland:  Reinstilling pride in the Inuit seal hunt, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden:  Sami demand rights as indigenous people, Radio Sweden

Russia: Russia brands Arctic indigenous organization as “foreign agent”, Barents Observer

United States:  Female whalers break ‘ice ceiling’ in Arctic Alaska, Alaska Dispatch News

Anne Hillman, Alaska Public Media

Anne Hillman, Alaska Public Media

For more news from Alaska visit Alaska Public Media.

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

Leave a Reply

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.
Netiquette »

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *