The Unitarian Universalist faith calls us to fully understand the legacy of Christopher Columbus, just as it calls us to respect and learn from indigenous peoples and support their struggles for social justice and religious freedom. Join Unitarian Universalists across the United States in honoring Indigenous Peoples Day.
History of the Holiday
“Indigenous Peoples Day” reimagines Columbus Day and changes a celebration of colonialism into an opportunity to reveal historical truths about the genocide and oppression of indigenous peoples in the Americas, to organize against current injustices, and to celebrate indigenous resistance.
The idea of replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day was born in 1977, at a U.N.-sponsored conference in Geneva, Switzerland, on discrimination against indigenous populations in the Americas. Fourteen years later, activists in Berkeley, CA, convinced the Berkeley City Council to declare October 12 a “Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People.” Henceforth, there has been a growing movement to appropriate “Columbus Day” as “Indigenous People’s Day”; states such as South Dakota, Hawai’i, and Alaska have changed the holiday’s name and many more cities have taken similar action. Read more about the history of Berkeley’s Indigenous Peoples Day.
Ways to Honor Indigenous Peoples Day
- Find out more about the Doctrine of Discovery and how to take action on the 2012 General Assembly resolution.
- Potential Unitarian Universalist Initiatives for Action About American Indians (PDF, 6 pages): A 2008 resource by James W. Loewen (author of Lies My Teacher Told Me and Sundown Towns) that provides background information and suggests ways for Unitarian Universalist congregations to carry out social justice work regarding Native justice issues.
- Coalition partner: The Friends Committee on National Legislation: This Quaker organization has long sought to live in right relations with Native peoples, working in respectful partnership with them on the issues most important to them.
- Coalition partner: Amnesty International: Amnesty is devoted to documenting and ending violence against Native women.