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Gov. Whitmer proclaims October 11 as Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Whitmer has appointed 39 Native Americans to judgeships, councils, boards, and commissions.
Indigenous Peoples Day
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Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 6:33 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is celebrating Michigan’s Indigenous population by proclaiming October 11 as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The proclamation is aimed at uplifting the country’s Indigenous roots and recognize the history and contributions of Indigenous peoples.

“Today is a day of remembrance, reflection, and celebration of the Indigenous peoples, including those who call Michigan home,” said Gov. Whitmer. “The success of tribal communities is inextricably linked to Michigan’s success, and we must ensure that they have an empowered voice and seat at the table. I am proud to proclaim October 11th as Indigenous Peoples’ Day and celebrate the thriving cultures and values that our tribal communities contribute to our state.”

October 11 is widely known as Columbus Day. However, Michigan is one of fourteen states and the District of Columbia along with more than 130 cities observe Indigenous Peoples Day instead of or in addition to Columbus Day. The thirteen other states are Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

Last month, Gov. Whitmer and Lt. Governor Gilchrist hosted a summit with Michigan’s tribal leaders to address the issues important to their communities and ensure they have an empowered seat at the table

“The proclamation for Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a significant step forward in acknowledging the myriad contributions of the first peoples of the Great Lakes region to the culture and economy of Michigan,” said Tribal Chairman Jamie Stuck of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi. “Our contributions include Indigenous traditional crops such as corn and beans that remain today a major part of Michigan’s agricultural economy. There have also been considerable hardships and challenges to be endured, all while maintaining our culture, history, and traditional way of life. This proclamation is a beginning to overcome the struggles of the past and to work together for a better-shared future.”

The conception of Indigenous Peoples Day began in 1977 at an international conference on discrimination sponsored by the United Nations. In 1989, South Dakota was the first state to recognize the day.

While some argue that Columbus Day is intended to celebrate Italian American heritage, many contend the holiday glorifies the exploration of Christopher Columbus that led to a genocide of native people.

In Gov. Whitmer’s first year in office, she signed Executive Directive 2019-17 which reaffirms and extends Michigan’s commitment to recognizing the sovereignty and right of self-governance of Michigan’s federally recognized Indian tribes and orders each state department and agency to adhere to these principles. It’s also the first executive directive in Michigan history to require training on tribal-state relations for all state department employees who work on matters that have direct implications for tribes.

The executive directive details a process of tribal consultation designed to ensure meaningful and mutually beneficial communication and collaboration between these tribes and the departments and agencies on matters of shared concern.

Gov. Whitmer has appointed 39 Native Americans to judgeships, councils, boards, and commissions. Recently, one of those appointees, Bryan Newland, was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs, where he will serve Native communities nationwide alongside Secretary Haaland.

View the full proclamation HERE.

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