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Joe Biden issues proclamation marking Indigenous Peoples’ Day

TOPSHOT – US President Joe Biden speaks before signing executive orders on health care, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 28, 2021. – The orders include reopening enrollment in the federal Affordable Care Act. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden issued a proclamation commemorating Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Friday, becoming the first US president to do so.

The White House said.”The contributions that Indigenous peoples have made throughout history — in public service, entrepreneurship, scholarship, the arts, and countless other fields — are integral to our Nation, our culture, and our society,” Biden wrote in the proclamation Friday. “Today, we acknowledge the significant sacrifices made by Native peoples to this country — and recognize their many ongoing contributions to our Nation.”Biden also marked a change of course from previous administrations in his proclamation marking Columbus Day, which honors the explorer Christopher Columbus.

In that proclamation, the President acknowledged the death and destruction wrought on native communities after Columbus journeyed to North America in the late 1500s, ushering in an age of European exploration of the Western Hemisphere.”Today, we also acknowledge the painful history of wrongs and atrocities that many European explorers inflicted on Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities. It is a measure of our greatness as a Nation that we do not seek to bury these shameful episodes of our past — that we face them honestly, we bring them to the light, and we do all we can to address them,” Biden wrote.

More than 100 cities including Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, Phoenix, San Francisco — and a number of states — including Minnesota, Alaska, Vermont and Oregon — have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day, choosing instead to recognize the native populations that were displaced and decimated after Columbus and other European explorers reached the continent. Berkeley, California, was the first city to adopt Indigenous Peoples’ Day, in 1992.White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that Friday’s announcement didn’t entail ending Columbus Day as a federal holiday.

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