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Indigenous Peoples Day honors contributions, legacy of native American population

Published: Oct. 10, 2021 at 11:59 PM EDT
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MAUMEE, Ohio (WTVG) - Monday has traditionally been celebrated as Columbus Day, but for the first time ever, the day will also be referred to as Indigenous People’s Day nationwide.

Columbus Day has been a federal holiday since 1971. It commemorates the explorer’s first journey across the Atlantic, but in recent years, many have questioned if that is really an event worth celebrating.

“[Columbus] had the opportunity to have excellent trade, good relationships with a new group of people, instead of treating them horribly and trying to make them subservient,” Jamie Oxendine, director of the Black Swamp InterTribal Foundation said.

When Christopher Columbus landed in the Caribbean, it was the beginning of a chain of events that led to American Indians being enslaved, killed, and removed from their homes. That’s why today statues of the man have been removed nationwide and cities across the country have declared Columbus Day as Indigenous People’s Day. This year, President Biden followed suit.

On Friday, the president issued proclamations designating Monday as Indigenous People’s Day as well as Columbus Day.

“Indigenous People’s Day is something he’s honored to be the first president to be issuing a proclamation on and celebrating,” says White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki of the announcement.

Oxendine believes that for the first Indigenous People’s Day, those in Northwest Ohio should learn about the people who lived on the banks of the Maumee before European settlers arrived.

“Just give credit to the native people for many of the wonderful contributions that we have given to the world,” says Oxendine.

In Maumee, the battle of Fallen Timbers changed the course of Native American history more than 200 years ago. Today the site tells the story from all perspectives, a project that was important to Metroparks’ Shannon Hughes.

“We’re telling a holistic story now. We’re not just celebrating one side’s history, we’re celebrating everyone’s history and everybody who came before us, especially our native Americans who came before us,” says Hughes.

Fallen Timbers would be a great place to learn about First Nations people and their history in Northwest Ohio. Oxendine says there’s a lot more to learn as well. Native people discovered popcorn, made the first chocolate, and the Mayans had the most advanced counting and calendar systems in the world at the time. Oxendine encourages you to learn even more about Native Americans on Indigenous People’s Day.

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