Native Community Wins Indigenous People's Day For Portland

 Teens gathered around a drum at A Youth Gathering of Native Americans.

Teens gathered around a drum at A Youth Gathering of Native Americans.

For too long, the U.S. federal government has recognized Columbus Day as a national holiday. Fortunately, thanks to the hard work and advocacy efforts of Native community leaders, including our friends and community partners at the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), Portland, OR is one city that does not celebrate Columbus Day anymore.

Columbus Day has been observed as the day that Christopher Columbus first arrived in the Americas. For many, that isn't something that deserves celebrating. Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas marked the beginning of a painful period for indigenous people--a period that included enslavement, colonization, displacement and the needless deaths of thousands of people, the effects of which are still felt today. That is why many Natives and their allies have set about reclaiming this holiday.

On October 7, 2015, Native community members testified before the Portland City Council; and the Portland City Council voted unanimously to pass a resolution, declaring the second Monday of October as Indigenous People's Day.

"This generation gets to grow up knowing the truth," said Klamath/Leech Lake Ojibway actor Dyami Thomas, who attended NAYA College Academy.

Thank you and congratulations to NAYA, the Grand Ronde Tribe and the other Native leaders who successfully ushered this resolution through City Council!

The Native American Youth and Family Center has received funding through the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund at Northwest Health Foundation, NWHF's Healthy Beginnings+Healthy Communities Initiative, Sponsorships, the President's Opportunity Fund and Learning Together, Connecting Communities.