SANTA FE – Monday, October 11, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples’ Day, recognizing that Indigenous people are the first inhabitants of the Americas, including the lands that later became the United States of America. The State of New Mexico officially adopted this holiday in 2019, replacing the previously observed holiday known as Columbus Day, which celebrates the mythology of his “discovery” of this land, where Indigenous peoples had already lived since time immemorial. The New Mexico Human Services Department recognizes Indigenous Peoples’ Day this year to mark the recognition of the story, Indigenous Peoples’ true history, and their presence today.
“Today we celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a day to remember the incredible strength and spirit of the original inhabitants. Indigenous people continue to live and thrive with culture, tradition and language despite the atrocities that took place to assimilate them. We are still here and will carry on our ancestors strength and vision,” said Shelly Begay, Dine’ Native American Liaison for the New Mexico Human Services Department.
On behalf of all colleagues at the New Mexico Human Services Department, we humbly acknowledge we work and live on the unceded ancestral lands of the original peoples of the Apache, Navajo and Pueblo past and present. With gratitude we pay our respects to the land, the people, and the communities that have contributed to what today is known as the State of New Mexico.
Indigenous Peoples Day reimagines Columbus Day and changes a celebration of colonialism into an opportunity to reveal historical truths about the genocide and oppression of indigenous peoples in the Americas.1 This seemingly small change is a step towards the practice of celebrating indigenous peoples’ presence, endurance and accomplishments.
There are 574 federally recognized tribes in the United States and many more unrecognized, with 23 in New Mexico (19 Pueblos, three Apache Tribes, and the Navajo Nation). The past, present, and future of New Mexico are inextricably linked to these communities.2 For example, New Mexico Native American feast days allow tribal members to come together in celebration of their language, culture and religion.3
The New Mexico Human Services Department seeks to transform lives by working with our partners to design and deliver innovative, high-quality health and human services that improve security and promote independence for New Mexicans in their communities. HSD is continuously striving to address the concerns that impact all New Mexicans, including Native Americans living on and off tribal lands. HSD’s priorities include providing individuals access to our programs and strengthening our relationships and partnerships with New Mexico Tribes, Nations and Pueblos. HSD begins formal presentations with a land acknowledgment to recognize the resiliency of the first inhabitants and care takers of the land we know today as New Mexico.
- 1) https://www.uua.org/racial-justice/dod/indigenous-dayhttps://www.uua.org/racial-justice/dod/indigenous-day
- 2) https://www.ncsl.org/legislators-staff/legislators/quad-caucus/list-of-federal-and-state-recognized-tribes.aspx
- 3) https://indianpueblo.org/feast-days/
- Healing and Reconciliation Institute Podcast: Three Sisters Collective: Three Sisters Collective is based in New Mexico and focuses on Pueblo women-centric arts, activism and empowerment. This interview speaks with Three Sisters Collective’s leaders about their work to heal, rematriate, and create community in New Mexico.
- Article describing the history and important dates in the process to establish Indigenous Peoples’ Day: https://www.docip.org/en/oral-history-and-memory/historical-process/
- Indigenous Peoples Day: A Handbook for Activists & Documentary History