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Resources for Learning About the Importance of Celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day
Compiled by Claudia Fox Tree

Why should we celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day? Over the course of two years, the First Nations Development Institute, a national organization dedicated to Native economic development, and Echo Hawk Consulting, conducted extensive research to uncover the dominant stories and narratives about Indigenous people in the United States and how these views affect public opinion and public policy. The research team conducted 28 focus groups in 11 states, surveyed 13,306 people online, analyzed 4.9 million social media posts, and interviewed members of Congress and judges as well as philanthropy, business, and other industry leaders. Here are some of their key findings:

  • Representation of contemporary Native Americans was found to be almost completely absent from K-12 education, pop culture, news media, and politics. 

  • 62% of U.S. non-Native Americans report not knowing a single one of the over 5 million Native people in the U.S., 70% of whom live in urban areas (78% living off reservations, according to 2010 U.S. Census).

  • Only 13% of state history curriculum standards about Native Americans cover events after the year 1900.

  • Even though this country operated over 400 Indian boarding schools, only four states teach this history: Arizona, Washington, Oklahoma, and Kansas.


Primary Sources
A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies (written in 1542 and published in 1552)
Bartolomé de las Casas presents a first-hand account of the atrocities committed by Columbus and those who came after him against the Indigenous peoples of the Caribbean.

Journal of the First Voyage of Columbus
Excerpts of journal entries written by Columbus:

“They are good to be ordered about, to be made to work, plant, and do whatever is wanted, to build towns and be taught to go clothed and accept our customs.” ~ Oct. 12, 1492, on board his ship the 1st night

“They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane… They would make fine servants… With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.” ~ Oct. 15, 1492, on board his ship the 5th night



Where the idea of Columbus Day came from and why changing it to Indigenous Peoples Day is so important: 

· Adam Ruins Everything: Christopher Columbus Was a Murderous Moron (6 minutes) 

· Columbus Was a Genocidal Rapist, MTV Decoded News (3 minutes)

· Reconsider Columbus Day (2 minutes)

The Hidden History of American Slavery

Exposes the history of the enslavement of 2.5-5 million native peoples in the Americas, beginning the moment Christopher Columbus arrived. (40 minutes)


Professor Robert Miller: The Doctrine of Discovery and Manifest Destiny
Explores the legal roots of manifest destiny and the pervasive land theft violations that resulted. It lays the foundation for systemic racism. (30 min)  


‘We the People’ – the three most misunderstood words in US history
Mark Charles, son of an American woman of Dutch heritage and a Navajo man, offers a unique perspective on three of the most misinterpreted words in American History. Written in the Papal Bulls of the 15th Century, embedded in our founding documents in the 18th Century, codified as legal precedent in the 19th Century and referenced by the Supreme Court in the 20th and 21st Centuries, the Doctrine of Discovery has been used throughout the history to keep "We the People" from including all the people. (17 minutes)


The Loss of Native American Lands Within the US: Every Year
Time lapse-style video graphic illustrating the rapid land theft by colonial settlers of Native Americans’ land. (2 mins)


Adam Ruins Everything: Why Mt. Rushmore is the Weirdest Monument
Recounts the theft of the Black Hills from the Lakota and the subsequent destruction of this sacred land. (5 minutes)



When Native Americans Were Slaughtered in the Name of ‘Civilization’
The reasons for racial genocide. Includes a list of massacres.


“It’s Called a Genocide:” The Strength of Language in U.S. Government Apologies to Native Americans
Katherine Hamilton reports about the California executive order that formally recognizes the state’s discriminatory history against Indigenous Peoples. The order was one of the first state-wide apologies to Native Americans to be issued in the United States.


America Has Always Used Schools as a Weapon Against Native Americans
Katrina Boone discusses the impact of relocation and boarding schools on the education of Indigenous youth.

Transatlantic Slave Trade
David Keys details horrific first voyages in the transatlantic slave trade.

Native Perspectives on the 40th Anniversary of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act
The Department of Interior’s 1883 Code of Indian Offenses de facto laws that applied only to American Indians. For example, Indigenous people were punished for observing traditional dances and feasts by imprisonment or withholding food. A medicine man was convicted of encouraging others to follow traditional practices and confined to agency prison.