Honoring Indigenous Peoples' Day 2023

On Monday, October 9th, we honor and celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day. We observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day to learn and commemorate Indigenous and Native American rich culture and history. Historically, the second Monday of October has been nationally recognized Christopher Columbus for "discovering" land in the Western Hemisphere. However, the celebration of Columbus Day ignores the impact of settler colonialism and the violent damage inflicted upon Indigenous communities, a historical reality that is often ignored. As such, celebrating Indigenous Peoples' Day offers a counter-narrative to American history's too often whitewashed narratives. Last year, after decades of activist movements led by Indigenous People, the nation’s capital passed a resolution to change the holiday to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. 

Indigenous Peoples' Day is a day dedicated to reflecting, recognizing, honoring, and seeking out education surrounding Indigenous Peoples and their histories. Indigenous Peoples are still here and have led numerous movements to advocate for their rights to maintain the integrity and viability of Indigenous societies.


Native American – A member of any of the first groups of people living in the Americas. When in doubt, ask what identity label someone prefers (Native American, American Indian, First Nation, Indigenous person, or a specific tribal affiliation). Indian is offensive and should not be used as a synonym unless someone has told you that is how they identify.

Indigenous Peoples – Indigenous populations are communities that live within, or are attached to, geographically distinct traditional habitats or ancestral territories and who identify themselves as being part of a distinct cultural group descended from groups present in the area before modern states were created and current borders defined.

Land Acknowledgement

This Indigenous People's Day, the Division of DEI is sharing our newly revised Land Acknowledgement. 

Read Our New Land Acknowledgement

Ways to center and honor Native and Indigenous Peoples 

1. Acknowledge the stolen Indigenous land you occupy, and learn about colonialism from Native and Indigenous perspectives

The history of Native and Indigenous Peoples is often told through a white lens, creating bias and harmful practices of ignoring Indigenous perspectives and paradigms. Colonialism has contributed to the narratives of Native and Indigenous peoples being historically controlled and regulated. To learn from Indigenous perspectives, seek out current research, and publications focusing on Native and Indigenous communities, such as Native Peoples magazine, for current coverage of issues impacting Indigenous communities. You can also read works by Indigenous and Native American authors, who write about their experiences and histories. We offer recommendations on academic literature, books, and Indigenous scholars' articles below. 

Native Lands App is an interactive map about your area’s Indigenous Peoples and languages. 

2. Recognize the diversity of Native and Indigenous peoples

Indigenous and Native American people are not a monolithic group of people, rather, they are a diverse population originating from diverse places, nations, cultural systems, customs, traditions, and languages. Indigenous peoples include Black Native, Black Indigenous, and Afro-Indigenous Peoples.  Membership of tribal nations is based on the rules of each tribe, and Indigenous membership is connected to a distinct historical and political relationship with the federal government and the tribes’ status as sovereign nations.

3. Learn about historical and existing systemic inequities

Indigenous communities have experienced generations of inequities in areas such as environmental injustice, poverty, education, and access to health care, due to systemic factors designed to dispossess Native and Indigenous people of their land and diverse cultures.

Furthermore, harmful stereotypical portrayals of Native and Indigenous peoples often occur, especially during Halloween and colonized perspectives of Thanksgiving. In seeking to celebrate, not appropriate Indigenous culture, accomplices should speak out against harm and seek to hold others around you accountable for the appropriation and misrepresentation of Native and Indigenous Peoples.

4. Listen, donate, and support the needs of tribes local to your area

With settler colonialism and systemic inequities comes the immediate need to bring awareness and advance decolonization and social justice. In seeking to be an accomplice to Indigenous Peoples, listen to local tribes to determine where your activism is most impactful and meaningful.

Read Native Voices! New Books by Native Authors in 2023

Calling for a Blanket Dance, by Oscar Hokeah.

Algonquin Press. From the author's website:

A moving and deeply engaging novel about a young Native American man as he learns to find strength in his familial identity. Oscar Hokeah’s electric debut takes us into the life of Ever Geimausaddle, whose family—part Mexican, part Native American—is determined to hold onto their community despite obstacles everywhere they turn.

Firekeeper's Daughter, by Angeline Boulley.

Henry Holt and Co. From the publisher:

With four starred reviews, Angeline Boulley's debut novel, Firekeeper's Daughter, is a groundbreaking YA thriller about a Native teen who must root out the corruption in her community, perfect for readers of Angie Thomas and Tommy Orange.

Killing the Wittigo: Indigenous Culture-Based Approaches to Waking Up, Taking Action, and Doing the Work of Healing, bSuzanne Methot.

ECW Press. From the publisher:
An unflinching reimagining of Legacy: Trauma, Story, and Indigenous Healing for young adults.

Additional Resources for Continued Learning

Becoming Kin: An Indigenous Call to Unforgetting the Past and Reimagining Our Future, by Patty Krawec.

Broadleaf Books. From the publisher:

We find our way forward by going back.

The invented history of the Western world is crumbling fast, Anishinaabe writer Patty Krawec says, but we can still honor the bonds between us. Settlers dominated and divided, but Indigenous peoples won't just send them all "home."

"Decolonization is Not a Metaphor" 
Tuck, E., & Yang, K. W. (2021). Decolonization is not a metaphor. Tabula Rasa, (38), 61-111.

"Rethinking Resilience from Indigenous Perspectives"
Kirmayer, L. J., Dandeneau, S., Marshall, E., Phillips, M. K., & Williamson, K. J. (2011). Rethinking resilience from indigenous perspectives. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry56(2), 84-91.

“I’ll Be Right Behind You”: Native American Families, Land Debt, and College Affordability
Tachine, A. R., & Cabrera, N. L. (2021). “I’ll Be Right Behind You”: Native American Families, Land Debt, and College Affordability. AERA Open7, 23328584211025522.

"Home Away from Home: Native American Students’ Sense of Belonging During their First Year in College"
Tachine, A. R., Cabrera, N. L., & Yellow Bird, E. (2017). Home away from home: Native American students’ sense of belonging during their first year in college. The Journal of Higher Education88(5), 785-807

"Beyond Land Acknowledgment in Settler Institutions"
Stewart-Ambo, T., & Yang, K. W. (2021). Beyond land acknowledgment in settler institutions. Social Text39(1), 21-46.