- President Joe Biden declared October 11 Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
- Biden acknowledged in a Columbus Day proclamation that European explorers harmed Native Americans.
- On Friday, the Biden administration restored protections for two national monuments in Utah.
Following years of campaigning by Native Americans for federal recognition, President Joe Biden issued the first presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which he declared would be observed on October 11 in honor of America’s first inhabitants.
“Since time immemorial, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians have built vibrant and diverse cultures – safeguarding land, language, spirit, knowledge, and tradition across the generations,” a White House proclamation release from Biden said.
Although Indigenous Peoples’ Day will be celebrated on the same date as Columbus Day, Biden acknowledged the atrocities inflicted on Indigenous communities by European explorers in another proclamation and urged the country not to try and bury “shameful episodes of our past.”
“For Native Americans, western exploration ushered in a wave of devastation: violence perpetrated against Native communities, displacement and theft of Tribal homelands, the introduction and spread of disease, and more,” a White House proclamation from Biden said. “On this day, we recognize this painful past and recommit ourselves to investing in Native communities, upholding our solemn and sacred commitments to Tribal sovereignty, and pursuing a brighter future centered on dignity, respect, justice, and opportunity for all people.”
Biden also announced Friday that his administration will restore protections for the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah, as well two monuments in New England.
“This may be the easiest thing I’ve ever done so far as President,” Biden said Friday during a speech outside the White House.
Former President Donald Trump had previously revoked protections for thousands of acres across the four monuments, Indian Country Today reported, which opened them up to mining, commercial fishing, and other developments.
“Today’s announcement, it’s not just about national monuments. It’s about this administration centering the voices of Indigenous people and affirming the shared stewardship of this landscape with tribal nations,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo nation.