When Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant first took office in early 2014, indigenous activists had been trying, without success, to secure sponsorship for legislation establishing Indigenous Peoples' Day on the same day federally recognized as Columbus Day. When these activists approached our office, we immediately worked with them to successfully pass such legislation.
"Learning about the history of Columbus and transforming this day into a celebration of social justice is not merely educational in nature," said Councilmember Kshama Sawant. "And it’s not only celebrating cultures. It also allows us to make a connection between this painful history and the ongoing marginalization, discrimination, and poverty that indigenous communities face to this day."
Seattle's victory in 2014 was thrust into the national spotlight by news outlets such as DemocracyNow!, CNN, Al Jazeera, Huffington Post and NPR. This helped spark a nationwide movement this year with activists successfully passing similar legislation across the country.
In Seattle, indigenous activists built off last year's victory by working on legislation acknowledging the trauma and cultural genocide perpetuated by the Indian Boarding School Policy of the US Government. Here is one section from the resolution (read the full version here):
WHEREAS, between 1869 and the 1960s at least 100,000 Native American children were removed from their homes and families, often involuntarily, and placed in faraway boarding schools that were funded and operated by the federal government and missionaries, where according to the Meriam Report: The Problem of Indian Administration, those children were: shamed for being Native American; punished for speaking their tribal language; banned from engaging in any traditional, spiritual, or cultural tribal practices; shorn of long hair and stripped of traditional clothing; and severely neglected, subjected to harsh discipline and corporal punishment, and physically, sexually, and mentally abused
See more photos from Seattle's 2nd annual Indigenous Peoples' Day celebration here.