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LA Rings In Its 5th Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Here’s How You Can Celebrate

A group of Indigenous Americans with long black hair and wearing traditional clothing stand in a group outside, a building and tree in the background. One man holds a bundle of burning incense. A woman grips a cane in one hand and holds what looks like a seashell over the rising smoke as a man in a suit looks on.
Andrew Morales offers burning incense while walking among the crowd gathered to celebrate the first Indigenous People's Day, in place of previously celebrated Columbus Day, on October 8, 2018 in Los Angeles.
(Frederic J. Brown
/
AFP via Getty Images)
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Topline:

Many government offices, libraries and courthouses are closed today for Indigenous People’s Day. Municipalities across California and at least 10 states now celebrate the holiday, which shifts away from the Eurocentric focus of Columbus Day.

The backstory: Los Angeles celebrated its first official Indigenous People’s Day in October 2018, one year after the L.A. City Council voted that it would replace Columbus Day. The council was following what was already a growing trend among cities across the country at the time. Last year Joe Biden became the first president to recognize Indigenous People's Day, though he stopped short of proclaiming it a federal holiday.

Why it matters: Indigenous People’s Day is a way to honor Native Americans and their contributions to society even as they faced assimilation, discrimination and genocide for centuries. Making it a federal holiday would require Congress to pass legislation. Advocates say the presidential proclamation helps correct a "whitewashed" American history that has glorified Europeans like Christopher Columbus, who committed violence against Indigenous communities. But Columbus Day remains the official holiday giving federal employees such as postal workers the day off from work.

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How to celebrate:

  • Learn about Indigenous history this Saturday at The Getty Center, with Native American storytellers and hands-on workshops for the whole family.
  • Visit Grand Park in DTLA between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. for a celebration highlighting Indigenous speakers, performers and food.

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