The flag representing the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Photo by Rhonda Silence
Rhonda Silence

UMD professor reflects on the significance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2021

Today is Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

The Cook County Board of Commissioners recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day during their final meeting in September by reading a proclamation adopted in 2015 recognizing the importance of the Grand Portage Anishinaabe in our community.

Similarly, in 2019, Gov. Tim Walz signed a proclamation declaring the second Monday in October that year as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Minnesota is home to 11 tribal nations.

Also, the Associated Press reports that President Joe Biden on Friday issued the first-ever presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, lending the most significant boost yet to efforts to refocus the federal holiday celebrating Christopher Columbus toward an appreciation of Native peoples.

“For generations, federal policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures,” Biden wrote in the Indigenous Peoples’ Day proclamation. “Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples’ resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society.”

Tadd Johnson is the University of Minnesota’s first senior director of American Indian tribal nations relations. He is also a member of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa in Minnesota. Johnson was a keynote speaker at an event in Grand Portage this summer focusing on native history and racism.

Johnson spoke on Indigenous Peoples’ Day with WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs about the significance of the day at the federal, state and local level.