EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Monday is officially Columbus Day, but one lawmaker here in Michigan is working to change it to Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead.
It’s all part of an effort to recognize Native American culture.
“It’s a great time to celebrate indigenous peoples,” said Stephanie Chau, the interim associate director for Michigan State University’s Native American Institute. “There have been a lot of people working toward this effort for many, many years.”
Whether its dancing, singing, or just sharing the importance of Native culture, Chau says it’s time indigenous peoples are recognized officially.
“I think it’s important to celebrate that we’re still here, it’s against all of the odds, it’s a miracle that we’re still here, and it’s a testament to the strength and determination and resilience of our ancestors that we’re still here,” said Chau.
Michigan senator Jeff Irwin introduced a bill this week that would replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the Great Lakes state.
Those against it say this bill would take away a big part of U.S. history, but Chau says that’s simply not the case.
“I think it’s important to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day to acknowledge that, to begin the healing process of all the injustices that have been done, to move forward in recognizing tribal peoples,” said Chau.
Chau hopes by beginning this conversation, people will better understand her culture and learn why this change means so much not only to her, but to the entire indigenous community.
“To begin having more respect in the mainstream and tribal sovereignty and tribal peoples, and rebuilding relationships built on trust and recognition,” said Chau.
If this bill is signed into law, Michigan would join Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, New Mexico, South Dakota and Vermont in officially celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day.