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5 Ways to Celebrate Indigenous People's Day 2021

How to celebrate the best holiday on October 11th

As more and more states (and districts) are getting on board with the pivot from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day, you may be wondering how best to celebrate the new holiday. Especially in a year when many pandemic restrictions are still in place, is there a way to safely celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day that will honor the first nations to call this land home?

The pandemic has brought the need to honor, celebrate, and advocate for indigenous peoples more into the light. In addition to past and ongoing atrocities that Native American populations have endured, statistics currently show that the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affecting Native Americans, and yet they are simultaneously being overlooked by data and failing to receive proper care. Of course, the solution to this problem will require a whole lot more than one day of action, but if you're looking to advocate, Indigenous Peoples' Day is a great time to start!

Learn, honor, and celebrate with one or several of these ideas: 

#1 Attend an In-Person or Virtual Celebration/Educational Opportunity

The number of events—both in-person and virtual—to celebrate Indigenous People's Day is growing every year!

The long-running Sunrise Ceremony on Alcatraz Island (video below) will be back in person this year! There's also a 2-day celebration in NYC on Sunday and Monday.

The Smithsonian is holding a virtual panel of young, black-indigenous activists to discuss advancing social justice and positive changes in their communities. Tons of other libraries and museums will hold educational events as well. 

In-person and virtual ceremonies and celebrations are taking place across the country; do a quick search and you may find an Indigenous Peoples' Day celebration in your area! 


#2 Educate Yourself and Your Family

You can also have a small, private celebration of Indigenous Peoples' Day by watching a movie that features indigenous people in an authentic way and celebrates their accomplishments.

Vision Maker Media has a great list of educational movies on a variety of topics concerning Indigenous people, including one on the legacy of Columbus Day, if you want to get meta. Many of these videos are available in physical formats and digital, so this celebration doesn’t require any more planning than a Netflix binge.

If you have young kids, you may also want to check out some books that teach about the history and contributions of the First Nations. Check out this list of recommended books from American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL). They have dozens of book recommendations for all ages—from board books to novels for adults. 

#3 Take Action to Rename Columbus Day

If your state isn’t one that has embraced the change to Indigenous Peoples' Day, they may need just a little push to point them in the right direction—a push that could come from you! Research where your state or city stands, then do a little digging and see if there are any individuals or groups in your area that are working to change the name of the holiday at the state or local level. If there are, I’m sure they’d be happy to have your help.

You can also urge change at the federal level by signing this petition, asking congress to revoke the federal holiday status of Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous Peoples' Day instead. 

#4 Get Involved in the Anti-Mascot Movement

We're seeing progress, but unfortunately, there are still hundreds of high school, college, and even professional teams who use stereotypical and racist terms and images of Native Americans. 

If you live in an area with a racially insensitive mascot, fighting for change is a great (and simple!) way to honor Native Americans. Check out the Abolishing Native Racist Mascots Toolkit here.

#5 Support Indigenous People's Rights Organizations

Indigenous Peoples' Day is a great way to bring awareness to the culture of the indigenous people who live among us. There are also unique issues facing these people that can’t be solved in a single day. 

Not only do indigenous people suffer horrible violence and discrimination, both historically and currently, but they have to constantly fight for visibility, to the point where some people don’t even think they exist anymore. As Native Americans have been disproportionately impacted, both medically and economically by the pandemic, plenty of great organizations could use financial support, especially in 2021. Organizations like the Partnership with Native Americans are using donations to help with emergency response related to the pandemic, as well as a host of other justice issues.

If you’re looking for more ways to donate, you can also just think back on all the natural areas native people have been working tirelessly to preserve over the last few years. There are any number of ways to donate to protect and restore these natural areas. The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition is a great way to give and get involved. Native people have gone to bat time and time again to protect the things that give us all life—let's join them!

We hope you find a way to learn and to celebrate this year. Happy Indigenous Peoples' Day!

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Kayla Robbins
DoneGood Contributor

Freelance writer working with bighearted businesses who want to better our world.

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