Breaking News
More () »

What is Indigenous Peoples' Day?

On Monday, Oct. 10, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed a proclamation formally recognizing Indigenous Peoples' Day for 2022.

MINNESOTA, USA — On the second Monday of October, states and cities across the U.S. will celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day in place of or in addition to Columbus Day.

Minnesota is one of those states. A proclamation signed on Monday, Oct. 10 by Gov. Tim Walz says Minnesota "joins a growing number of government entities across the country" that recognize Indigenous Peoples' Day "in order to promote appreciation, recognition, solidarity, reconciliation, understanding, friendship, and continued partnerships among all people and the Indigenous peoples of this land."

Here's a look at what you need to know about Indigenous Peoples' Day 2022.

What is Indigenous Peoples' Day?

Indigenous Peoples' Day was first proposed in 1977 at the United Nations-sponsored International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas. The holiday pushed back on the idea that Christopher Columbus "discovered" the Americas in 1492, and shined a light on the atrocities committed against Native peoples as European settlers moved to the continent.

In 2021, Joe Biden became the first president to issue a presidential proclamation for Indigenous Peoples' Day, though more than three decades earlier, South Dakota became the first state to replace Columbus Day with the holiday.

Indigenous Peoples' Day is meant to celebrate the longstanding history of these communities and honor their contributions to society and culture. 

"Native peoples challenge us to confront our past and do better, and their contributions to scholarship, law, the arts, public service, and more continue to guide us forward," President Biden said in his 2022 proclamation for Indigenous Peoples' Day, "But we have more to do to help lift Tribal communities from the shadow of our broken promises, to protect their right to vote, and to help them access other opportunities that their ancestors were long denied."

RELATED: Native American Boarding Schools: A Lost History

What is the day's importance?

In St. Paul, celebrations of Indigenous Peoples Day followed a parade. There, KARE 11's Sharon Yoo asked Indigenous folks what the importance of the day is for them.

"It's Indigenous Day, I received a proclamation from St. Paul city council on behalf of all the Dakotas. So we're honored to be here, proud that we are here, that they're recognizing us here," Strong Buffalo said.

Strong Buffalo added that "We discovered Columbus in about 1492, and we welcomed him and everybody else here to this land." 

Heidi Friedli told KARE 11 that she loves the ribbon skirts, headdresses and regalia, saying, "it's really fantastic to have everyone together it's my community."

"Our people have gone through a lot, in the past 400 years or so, and to be able to celebrate as one people, the fact that we're still here, and we're still practicing our culture [means a lot]," Friedli said.

"I love it every year, I try to be here every year," Justin Solis said. "I don't think I've missed a year since it became Indigenous Peoples day."

"We're still here, celebrate your indigenous friends, tell them happy Indigenous Peoples day, make us feel appreciated," Solis added.

"It used to be Columbus day, everybody got a day off and I think it was just a one-sided narrative, and false information that they were celebrating," Melissa Perez said. "People weren't realizing all the trauma and stuff that my people went through and this helps our healing."

"When I was growing up, I grew up coloring pictures of the Mayflower, without knowing the truth," Perez recalled. "So I love that my kids have the opportunity to know who they are and feel that strong sense in their identity."

Wicahpi Elkhead explained, "Native American people we're a proud people you know? And it's in Native tradition, you're also supposed to take care of other people as well."

"Minnesota is Dakota land, this is-- Mnisota means the land where the water reflects the blue sky, and this is our homeland," Strong Buffalo explained.

"Just acknowledging that we're still here, we're happy, and we're here, here to stay we ain't going nowhere," Elkhead added.

"We're real people, we have real feelings, we have a connection to this land, we welcome you to learn about us," Perez said.

What's open and closed?

Many states, cities and communities around the country still recognize Columbus Day, which is still considered a federal holiday. Because Indigenous Peoples' Day is observed on Columbus Day, some services and businesses will be closed.

The United States Postal Service will be closed and won't deliver mail or packages.

FedEx services will be operating, including Express and Ground shipping. UPS also will be open.

Minneapolis City offices are closed Monday in observance of Indigenous Peoples Day.

Because Columbus Day is a federal holiday, most banks will also be closed on Monday.

Push in Minnesota to make Indigenous Peoples' Day official

While Gov. Walz once again issued a proclamation recognizing Indigenous Peoples' Day in Minnesota, it would take lawmakers to make it a state holiday.

State Rep. Heather Keeler (DFL-Moorhead) introduced a bill during the 2022 legislative session to establish Indigenous Peoples' Day as a state holiday and eliminate Columbus Day. After passing in the House as part of the omnibus state government finance bill, the measure died in the Senate.

"I think there's always pushback from people who don't really understand Native history and understand that what we're trying to do is just uplift the beauty in who we are. This is not designed to come with confrontation," Rep. Keeler said.

She added, "Really the whole history and the background of Indigenous Peoples' Day is to provide a day for us as Indigenous people to be respected, valued, heard, our stories to be shared, our stories to be understood but also uplifting the fact that we're still very much here. We're a thriving population and the land in which everybody in Minnesota is on, and thrives on, is actually Indigenous land."

If re-elected, Rep. Keeler said the plan is to try again during the next legislative session. Following other holidays that take place when school is in session, the bill would require schools to include at least one hour of education around Indigenous Peoples' Day.

"It can be about language, the beauty in our culture, our regalia, song, authors... there's all these opportunities that we can involve from a school level," Rep. Keeler said.

Prior to becoming a state representative, Keeler helped lead an effort in 2019 that resulted in the city of Moorhead recognizing Indigenous Peoples' Day.

She said, "I think that often we see this conversation come with a lot of hurt, harm and hate and I would prefer that this conversation continue to be around love, growth and inclusivity."

How can we celebrate around the Twin Cities?

Starting at 11 a.m., the Saint Paul Public Schools American Indian Education Program is hosting its annual Indigenous Peoples Day Community Celebration and parade.

The parade begins at Margaret Park and ends at Indian Mounds Regional Park with dancing, music, lacrosse demonstrations and more. This year's parade grand marshal is Miss Minnesota Rachel Evangelisto, the first Indigenous woman to wear the crown.

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe and currently the country’s highest-ranking Native woman elected to an executive office, tweeted a photo of her family Monday in celebration of Indigenous Peoples' Day.

"Today, and every day, we honor our ancestors by being our full, beautiful, and powerful Indigenous selves. We are resilient, we are still here, and we will always be here in Mni Sota Makoce," she wrote.

Looking for other ways to celebrate? Check out this list from the National Museum of the American Indian.

Watch more local news:

Watch the latest local news from the Twin Cities in our YouTube playlist:

Before You Leave, Check This Out