Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ DaySep 29, 2023 ● By Kiki Powers
October 9 is Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Its origin traces back to 1977, during the United Nations International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas, but it was not proclaimed an official U.S. holiday until 2021. During this national holiday, we celebrate the invaluable contributions and resilience of Indigenous peoples, recognize their inherent sovereignty and commit to our treaty obligations with tribal nations.
The federal government recognizes 574 American Indian tribes and Alaska Native entities in the U.S. According to the United Nations, there are more than 476 million Indigenous peoples living in 90 countries worldwide, accounting for 6.2 percent of the global population.
Here are a few ways to celebrate:
Honor the land. Visit Native Land Digital (native-land.ca) to learn the location and history of lands inhabited by Indigenous peoples around the world. The website, which includes an interactive map, identifies territories, languages and treaties.
Learn the history. Winner of the 2015 American Book Award, An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz offers a compelling history of the United States told from the perspective of Indigenous peoples.
Connect with nature. Indigenous peoples are exemplary stewards of the land that they inhabit, and we can take their lead by spending time in nature, acknowledging our dependence on the land and becoming good stewards of the local ecosystem.
Build a garden. There is much to learn from Indigenous gardening techniques. Companion planting, for example, is the idea that certain plants grown together improve each other’s health and yield. Choose native plants as much as possible to support the local ecosystem. Grow healing herbs and flowers. At the end of a season, save the seeds of plants that thrived for future use.
Support Indigenous businesses. On this day and every day, consider supporting Indigenous businesses for handmade jewelry and clothing, body care products, home decor and artwork.
Visit a museum. The National Museum of the American Indian is part of the Smithsonian Institution, with locations in Washington, D.C., New York City and Suitland, Maryland. It curates one of the world’s largest collections of native artifacts.
Take up storytelling. Historically, Indigenous peoples have used storytelling to educate, inform, entertain and preserve their distinct legacy for future generations. Gather with friends and family to learn about and practice this life-affirming art.
Explore Indigenous art forms. From traditional masks that narrate origin stories to handmade jewelry, crafts and dreamcatchers that memorialize healing dreams, there are so many wonderful art projects that we can appreciate and learn.
Kiki Powers is a health writer, blogger and national speaker specializing in plant-based nutrition and healthy green living. Learn more at RawKiki.com.