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How — and why — we celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day: NPR

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Today’s news

A the third day of war is underway as Israel responds to a surprise Hamas attack. Israeli media say more than 700 Israelis have been killed and others are being held captive in Gaza. Israel in turn launched airstrikes on Gaza, killing more than 400 people, according to authorities.

Rockets are fired towards Israel from Gaza on Saturday.

Fatima Chbair/AP


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Fatima Chbair/AP


Rockets are fired towards Israel from Gaza on Saturday.

Fatima Chbair/AP

  • The Israeli military said Monday that it was still fighting Hamas militants in several Israeli residential communities and that the militants continued to infiltrate from Gaza. NPR’s Daniel Estrin reports from Tel Aviv that police are setting up checkpoints across the country and many Israelis still don’t know the status of their loved ones.
  • Israel launched heavy airstrikes on Gaza, hitting at least 1,000 targets, including many mosques. Israel has also cut off electricity supplies to Gaza and its main hospital is running out of supplies.
  • Many wonder how Hamas was able to carry out an attack of such magnitude without any warning. That’s what NPR’s Greg Myre is asking attendees at a pre-planned conference of current and former national security officials. He says First we are talking about the role that the main sponsor of Hamas, Iran, could have played.

A tale of two vacations

Indigenous Peoples Day honors Native Americans, their resilience, and their contributions to American society in the face of generations of assimilation, discrimination, and genocide. It distracts from federal holidays named after the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, who is credited with the discovery of the Americas, despite the devastating effects of colonization on the indigenous peoples who already lived there.

  • President Biden was the first president to recognize this holiday in 2021. A growing number of localities have recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day in recent years: ten states and more than 100 cities officially celebrate it.
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Protesters marched during an Indigenous Peoples Day rally in Boston on October 10, 2020, as part of a demonstration to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day.

Boston Globe/Boston Globe via Getty Images


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Boston Globe/Boston Globe via Getty Images


Protesters marched during an Indigenous Peoples Day rally in Boston on October 10, 2020, as part of a demonstration to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day.

Boston Globe/Boston Globe via Getty Images

There are no set rules on how to celebrate this day, although certain activities are recommended. You can research – and officially recognize – the Indigenous lands you’re on, attend a virtual community or event, and support Indigenous causes, businesses and authors.

Columbus Day is still a federal holiday and celebrated in many states – the explorer remains an important figure to many, particularly in the Italian-American community.

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Professor Emeritus Henrietta Mann (Cheyenne), a pioneer in Native American studies, received a National Humanities Medal from President Biden in 2021. The White House citation honors Mann “for devoting her life to strengthening and development of Native American education.

Matika Wilbur


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Matika Wilbur


Professor Emeritus Henrietta Mann (Cheyenne), a pioneer in Native American studies, received a National Humanities Medal from President Biden in 2021. The White House citation honors Mann “for devoting her life to strengthening and development of Native American education.

Matika Wilbur

Photographer Matika Wilbur, of Swinomish and Tulalip origin, set out on a mission in 2012: to illustrate the diversity and complexity of Native Americans by photographing members of all 562 American tribes then recognized by the federal government. More than 10 years, 600,000 miles and several vehicles later, she published her portraits and interviews in a book titled Project 562: Changing the Way We See Native America — work she describes to NPR as “narrative correction” work.

Recommended reading and listening

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Competitors And My powerful hair are two recent children’s books about indigenous heritage.

Henry A. Abrams and Kokila


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Henry A. Abrams and Kokila


Competitors And My powerful hair are two recent children’s books about indigenous heritage.

Henry A. Abrams and Kokila

Many Native authors write about the past, present, and future of Native life and culture in the United States. Here are a few who recently shared their stories with NPR:

  • That of Carole Lindström My powerful hair transforms a painful truth about racism into a celebration of indigenous culture.
  • Competitors: two indigenous baseball players, a World Series by Traci Sorell and Arigon Starr tells the story of the confrontation between John Meyers and Charles Bender in the 1911 World Series.
  • Morgan Talty balances heaviness with humor In Night of the Rez Vivanta collection of short stories about members of a Native American tribe struggling with poverty and addiction.
  • In Becoming a parent: an indigenous call to forget the past and reimagine our future, Patty Krawec explores the history, myths and identity of natives and settlers, weaving her own story with that of her ancestors.

Check out some NPR podcast episodes that highlight Indigenous stories:

  • RPSN Civics 101 look at the well-worn stories of Christopher Columbus, Pocahontas, the Pilgrims and Puritans and the Founding Fathers. Separate fact from fiction and discover how these founding myths came to be.
  • In a sacred spring atop Mount Shasta in California, the Winnemem Wintu tribe tells of the beginnings of the world when salmon gave up their voices so humans could speak. KALW The spiritual edge explores the special obligation they now feel to defend the salmon in exchange for this gift.
  • Most reservation lands in the United States are not owned by tribes. NPR Direct line took a road trip through two reservations: one entirely owned by the tribe and one where the tribe only owns a fraction of the land. It explores the moments that led them on different paths and what their futures will look like.

Stories you may have missed

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The waters off Morro Rock could be an indicator of climate change, as species from warmer waters could migrate into the region as the ocean warms.

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Robert Schwemmer/NOAA

The Biden administration is one step away to designate the first tribally designated national marine sanctuary. The Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary would prevent the installation of wind turbines and offshore oil platforms on some 5,600 square miles of ocean off the central California coast – land sacred to the Chumash people for 20,000 years .

The city of Denver donated 35 bison to several Native American tribes and a memorial council in Colorado, Oklahoma and Wyoming.. This is an example of indigenous people reclaiming management of the lands and animals that their ancestors managed for generations.

After much lobbying, an Alaska school district can now operate on a school calendar aligned with seasonal subsistence harvests. This allows students to participate in fall moose hunting and spring migratory bird harvesting, gaining traditional knowledge that cannot be learned in the classroom.

This newsletter was published by Majd Al-Waheidi. Suzanne Nuyen contributed.

Nature
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