While Columbus Day is observed annually on the second Monday of October, not all states follow this traditional holiday. Instead, they choose to celebrate other events that same day. Enter: National Native American Day!
Also known as Native American Day and Indigenous People’s Day, observers of this holiday choose to celebrate the heritage of Native Americans and to share knowledge of the native peoples who have been here since before the start of the American story. Celebrated in South Dakota and Berkeley, California, instead of Columbus Day and statewide in California as a day of observance on the fourth Friday of September, this holiday is meant to uplift and highlight the cultures of our country’s first nations.
Many people who celebrate Native Americans’ Day do so through teaching and learning about the traditions, culture, and heritage of Native American peoples. This is frequently paired with awareness-raising activities about their history that aren’t always taught within the public-school system. Indigenous peoples’ culture is celebrated through markets and pow wow events. At the markets people can buy and sell Native American art, jewelry, clothes, food, and other goods. Pow wows are events that include all the best parts of the markets, but also involve dancing and singing in accordance with each Native American nation’s traditions.
Take some time on this year’s National Native American Day to celebrate the Esselen, the Native American people indigenous to the Big Sur area of the Santa Lucia Mountains. We encourage you to support your local Native American artists and businesses too!
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