‘What Does Indigenous Peoples’ Day Mean to You?’ – 11 Indigenous Voices from NDN Collective Respond

October 7, 2022

‘What Does Indigenous Peoples’ Day Mean to You?’ – 11 Indigenous Voices from NDN Collective Respond

Monday October 10 is Indigenous Peoples’ Day and it signifies many things to Indigenous people across Turtle Island. From a day of celebration, a space to honor those we have lost, or the recognition of the work still ahead of us, we shine light on the beautiful reflections of what this day represents.

On the second Monday of October, people all across the so-called United States celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day (IPD).  This year, IPD falls on October 10.

IPD  signifies many things to Indigenous people, including the celebration of victories all across Indigenous lands to abolish Columbus Day– a day that many states and municipalities have still yet to eliminate– replacing it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.  This day is also significant to us at NDN Collective, as we recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day as the day we publicly launched in 2018.

In recognition of this day and all of the meaning that it holds, we lift up 11 different voices from across NDN Collective, as they reflect on what Indigenous Peoples’ Day means to them:

Kami-Rae James, Hopi

Program Officer

Indigenous Peoples’ Day acknowledges our continued resilience, honors our ancestors and their sacrifices, and celebrates our culture and traditional lifeways. It’s also a strong reminder that we still exist and will continue to rise.

Teresa Peterson, Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota

Program Manager

Indigenous Peoples’ Day is necessary because of the invisibility and erasure of this land’s people, relationships and connections. I am– we are– Indigenous everyday. We are valuable and worthy. So, on this day we shout out in celebration, ‘We are still here!’

Miguel Douglas, Puyallup

Federal Grant Writer

Indigenous Peoples’ Day to me is an important reminder that we are all survivors. Many of our ancestors fought for us to be here, surviving against immense injustices to allow us to carry on our cultures, traditions, and ways of life. We are still here, carrying the power of our ancestors with us.

Steph Viera, Diné

Social Media Manager

Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day means acknowledging the strides of our communities in the movement whose efforts visibilize our past, present and future existence. It means everything to share space with my Indigenous kin and share our experiences, cultural knowledge and laughter with one another.

Sarah Manning, Newe’ & Numa / Shoshone-Paiute

Director of Communications

That Indigenous Peoples’ Day even exists is a testament to the generations of Indigenous resistance to not just columbus day, but to colonialism overall.

This day would not be possible without the the collective efforts of those who came before us– those who resisted courageously– from our Grandmas and Grandpas who maintained our languages and teachings, to the organizers and resistors of the Red Power movement of the 60s and 70s who decried columbus day long before many of us were even born. This day is about resistance, and the continuity and love of our people.

PennElys Droz, Anishinaabe

Program Officer

Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a time of reflection, remembering the power of our organizing and resistance, and also celebration of the strong new futures young Indigenous people are creating on the foundations built by ancestors and elders.

Tina Kuckkahn, Anishinaabe

Director of Grantmaking

While the origin story of Indigenous Peoples’ Day began as something we were against (Unnamed Colonizer Day), it has evolved into something that we are FOR- Indigenous self-determination as expressed through all of our beautiful lifeways, language, culture, and ceremonies.

Andrew Catt-Iron Shell, Eastern Band Cherokee

NDN Action Organizer

I am what the echo from the eons sounds like: ‘I am still here. I ain’t going nowhere.’ Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Brandy Calabaza, Jicarilla Apache/Kewa Pueblo

Communications Associate

For far too long Indigenous Peoples have been minimized and subjected to acts of genocide that have tried to eliminate us from existence. On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we stand together as a statement that we are still here.

We extend gratitude to those who paved the way, movement leaders and grassroots organizers who stood up in defense of our communities. We hold space for the ancestors and relatives whose sacrifices ensured our survival today. And we celebrate our existence as warriors who are dismantling the colonial system, one holiday at a time. It is our day to acknowledge our history, our struggle, and our victories. To all the great strides that have been made in defense of who we are as a community.

Nick Tilsen, Oglala Lakota

President & CEO

Indigenous Peoples’ Day has been a day that we have reclaimed and took back from the colonizers. They tried to kill us, assimilate us, imprison us, steal our land and erase us. Today is a reminder that their efforts were unsuccessful.

We are warriors, builders, protectors and innovators. We will continue to fight for our liberation, by tearing down Columbus statues, changing the name of this day and fighting for the return of Indigenous lands back into Indigenous hands. LandBack is the path forward for our people, our lands, and our future. Indigenous artists will sing songs of freedom and paint murals of the future we are fighting for.

Kellian Staggers, Diné

Advancement Coordinator

We are Indigenous 24/7, 365, and that never stops. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is when we can collectively celebrate our ongoing resilience, while also promoting our own visibility. It creates a space that we fill with declarations of our continued existence, and it serves as a reminder to the world that we will continue to thrive.

Wherever you are on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, remember that this is a day of victory just as much as it is a day of continuing to fight for the elimination of Columbus Day, for decolonization, and the reclamation of Indigenous self-determination on Indigenous lands.

From all of us at NDN Collective, Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day! 

Watch NDN Collective’s ‘We are Unapologetically Indigenous’ Video in Honor of Indigenous Peoples Day

Check out these additional IPD Resources:

Illuminative | Advocates Guide to Support Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Map | Abolish Columbus Day

Zinn Education Project | Indigenous Peoples Day Resources

March 2023 Edition

Stay Informed. Take Action.

Subscribe to the NDN allies newsletter

Sign up to get our newsletter. Delivered once per month.

We care about the protection of your data and would never sell your email or share it with anyone without your permission.

NDN Collective Responds to Forest Services Commitment to Study Mining Impacts in the Black Hills Posted 11 months ago
“This is a victory for Tribal Sovereignty. The fight to protect ALL of the water of the sacred Black Hills continues and we remain vigilant and committed to this duty. We stand in solidarity with communities that have been defending Ȟešapa for generations, when our treaties are honored it protects the water for everyone.”
NDN Collective Slams Biden Greenlighting Willow Oil Project Posted 12 months ago
“The Biden administration’s decision to greenlight the Willow project is a climate disaster in the making. Today’s decision completely contradicts not only the administration’s climate goals, but also its commitment to consider Traditional Ecological Knowledge in federal policy making."
Willow Project Threatens Traditional Caribou Hunting: Naqsragmiut Tribal President Writes Letter to the DOI Requesting Consultation Posted 12 months ago
"Residents of our community described concerns about potential impacts to our primary diet, Caribou, to global warming, and to our way of life. BLM has not come back to our community this time and we feel our people and their concerns have been overlooked."
Consultation Process Inadequate: New Letter from Nuiqsut Community Leaders to Department of Interior Posted 12 months ago
It seems that despite its nod to traditional ecological knowledge, BLM does not consider relevant the extensive knowledge and expertise we have gained over millennia, living in a way that is so deeply connected to our environment.
Paying Respects to the American Indian Movement, 50 Years since the Occupation of Wounded Knee

Brandy Calabaza

Posted 12 months ago
NDN Collective joins hundreds at the American Indian Movement 4 Directions March commemorating the 1973 Occupation of Wounded Knee, and members of the team share reflections on the power and purpose of the day.
NDN Collective Joins Tribes, Organizers, and Activists Across Turtle Island in Mobilization to #StopCopCity

Sherrie Anne Hart , Angelica (Angie) Solloa

Posted 1 year ago
"Building Cop City on stolen Indigenous Lands, to inflict violence in a Black neighborhood, on a piece of land that is essential for air quality and much needed biodiversity to combat climate change is racist, unjust and the opposite direction that we need to be heading in."
NDN Collective Announces the 2023 Radical Imagination Grant Open Application Period Posted 1 year ago
Ten Indigenous artists, artist collectives or small nonprofits of all artistic traditions, mediums and genres will be awarded $100,000 grants over two years.
Police Assault Indigenous Youth with Disabilities at Central High School Posted 1 year ago
"We must prioritize resources and solutions that promote restorative justice, mental health services, and other interventions that address the root causes of conflict, rather than relying on punitive measures that perpetuate the cycle of violence and harm."
“Medicine in a world of violence”: Shining Light on Community-led Efforts to fight the MMIR Epidemic

Janene Yazzie

Posted 1 year ago
Challenging the commercialization of February 14, NDN Collective’s Southwest Regional Director Janene Yazzie calls attention to the MMIR (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives) Day of Awareness, National Day of Action, and grassroots efforts to fight the MMIR epidemic. Yazzie also shares future MMIR programming from NDN Collective coming soon.
10 Books by Black and & Afro-Indigenous Authors on Black History, Liberation and Futurism Posted 1 year ago
A list curated by Afro-Indigenous Staff at NDN Collective in honor of Black History Month.

United like never before, we rise together—arm in arm—to equip all Indigenous Peoples with the tools needed to become architects of our future. Through a holistic approach to infrastructure, funding, advocacy, movement building, and philanthropy we are fostering a world of justice and equity for all people and the planet.