For decades, Columbus Day was celebrated in many parts of the United States every second Monday in October. The day was to celebrate Christopher Columbus, the man who sailed the ocean blue in 1492 and “discovered” the new world. His “discovery”, however, was of a continent populated by millions of people already, as thousands of indigenous tribes called North, Central, and South America home long before Europeans sailed over.
The day first started in 1907 in Colorado, with Franklin Roosevelt creating the first federal observance in 1937 and Richard Nixon officially establishing the modern holiday in 1972. But in large part because of how Columbus treated native and indigenous folks while alive in the New World, many places in the United States have been petitioning or outright changing the day to ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day’ to honor the indigenous people who have called the Americas home for thousands of years.
I think it’s vital to listen to, support, and follow indigenous people, especially in the context of caring and advocating for animals and the environment. Rather than try to rewrite those narratives myself, here are some great resources:
- When Whales and Humans Talk by Krista Langlois, Hakai Magazine (this is a story about how indigenous arctic peoples have hunted and communicated with whales for generations and how scientists are finally taking note. You can listen to this article being read aloud at the Hakai Magazine Audio Edition wherever you listen to podcasts.)
- Death of a Modern Wolf by J.B. MacKinnon, Hakai Magazine
- This Orca Was Stolen From Puget Sound. The Lummi Nation Want Her Back by Eilís O’Neil, NWPB
- Feeding a Wild Orca: Inside the Practice Run to Save the Ailing Killer Whale J50 by Lynda V. Mapes, Seattle Times
- ‘Salvation Fish’ That Sustained Native People Now Needs Saving by J.B. Mackinnon, National Geographic
- The future of PCB-laden orca whales, and doing genomics work with Indigenous people By Sarah Crespi, Meagan Cantwell, Lizzie Wade from Science Magazine
- Idle No More, an organization and movement that works towards sustainable development, indigenous sovereignty, and protection of the land and water.