I was invited by Green Mountain Mornings host Olga Peters to join her for the show on Monday, Oct. 8, 2018, for a discussion of Indigenous Peoples’ Day. We had an enjoyable 20-minute conversation about the who, what, why, where, and “now what” aspects of this symbolic yet significant change of observance from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. A link to the podcast resulting from the airtime dialogue is here on SoundCloud.
Happy note: Our time ended with Olga asking me if I would be interested in putting together a regular monthly show devoted to a place-based indigenous perspective, with guests and a wide variety of Abenaki-centric topics. Of course I said “Yes!” Centering on n’siboal – our rivers – and Wantastegok, we will explore local history, linguistics, politics, relationship to place and all of our relations, ways of being in the world, traditional skills, arts, music – you name it… culture is complex.
Photo by Kristopher Radder of the Brattleboro Reformer.
Transcript from the morning news brief on Vermont Public Radio on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, with Mitch Wirtlieb (thanks to Meg Malone for providing this):
Governor Phil Scott has named October 8th Indigenous People’s Day to celebrate native people’s place in history.
The governor’s proclamation acknowledges Vermont was founded on land first inhabited by Abenaki people and their ancestors.
Rich Holschuh is a member of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs.
The second Monday in October is often celebrated as the federal holiday, Columbus Day. Holschuh says renaming the day is not meant to diminish Columbus’ importance in American history.
“It’s completing the story; it’s not replacing a story. I’m not in favor of taking Columbus out of the history books. He needs to be in there because his actions and the actions of others have had tremendous effect, and we need to recognize what that effect is.”
This is the third year that Vermont governors have recognized Native Americans through an executive order.
Holschuh says he hopes the Legislature will take up the issue and make the change permanent.
Link to pdf of the 2018 Executive Proclamation by VT Gov. Philip Scott: Indigenous Peoples’ Day VT 2018
Link to pdf of Vermont Governor Phil Scott’s Executive Proclamation for 2018: Indigenous Peoples’ Day
Holidays don’t simply spring into existence – they’re conceptualized, created, lobbied for, and passed into law by state and federal lawmakers. On this show, we’re looking at the New Hampshire author Sarah Hale, who helped craft the modern traditions of Thanksgiving. Also, a holiday that’s still under construction: Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Go to 25:45 in the podcast to hear a discussion of the grassroots movement to re-envision the misrepresented glorification of Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, honoring those who embody the destructive aims of colonization. Featured is commentary Denise Beauregard Pouliot of the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook Abenaki Nation.
See and hear the post on NHPR here.
State of Vermont
WHEREAS, Indigenous Peoples’ Day was first proposed in 1977 by a delegation of Native Nations to the International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas; and
WHEREAS, a growing number of cities and towns in the United States have recognized the second Monday of October as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day”, re-imagining Columbus Day as an opportunity to celebrate indigenous heritage and resiliency; and
WHEREAS, Vermont recognizes the historic, cultural, and contemporary significance of Indigenous Peoples of the lands that also became known as the Americas; and
WHEREAS, Vermont recognizes it was founded and built upon lands first inhabited by Indigenous Peoples of this region – the Abenaki, their ancestors and allies – and acknowledges and honors these members of the community.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Philip B. Scott, Governor, do hereby proclaim October 9, 2017 as INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ DAY in Vermont. Given under my hand and the Great Seal of the State of Vermont on this 23rd day of August, A.D. 2017.
Philip B. Scott, Governor
Brittney L. Wilson, Secretary of Civil and Military Affairs
Officially posted (at last!) here.
VT Scott Indigenous Peoples Day.
I am a third-generation Italian-American. My family comes from the Abruzzo region of Southern Italy and arrived in the U.S. and Canada about 100 years ago. I support the removal of Columbus Day with the direct intention of replacing it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day here in Vermont. I support bills H.488 (in the Vermont House) and S.83 (in the Vermont Senate). I support the creation of another day commemorating the important legacy of Italian-Americans. Perhaps we should have a day recognizing the sacrifices and strength of Italian-American women on the anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire on March 25.
Celebrating Columbus harms indigenous peoples. All violence against indigenous peoples must end immediately. We should respect indigenous people and listen to what they are asking of us from protecting the water to removing Columbus Day and replacing it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. We, as settlers, have an authentic opportunity to embark upon a trajectory which could lead to an overdue healing and further assist decolonization. This decolonization could lead to reconciliation.
Read her full commentary here.