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Gov. Whitmer proclaims Oct. 11 as Indigenous Peoples' Day

The dome of the Michigan Capitol Building is pictured in Lansing. (SBG/Mikenzie Frost)
The dome of the Michigan Capitol Building is pictured in Lansing. (SBG/Mikenzie Frost)
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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proclaimed Oct. 11 as Indigenous Peoples' Day on Monday.

The move was an effort to recognize the history and contributions of Indigenous Americans to Michigan.

"Today is a day of remembrance, reflection, and celebration of the Indigenous peoples, including those who call Michigan home,” Whitmer said. “The success of tribal communities is inextricably linked to Michigan’s success, and we must ensure that they have an empowered voice and seat at the table. I am proud to proclaim October 11th as Indigenous Peoples’ Day and celebrate the thriving cultures and values that our tribal communities contribute to our state."

Whitmer made her proclamation on Columbus Day, reflecting a continuing push to direct the holiday's focus away from a controversial figure in America's history, and toward the role Indigenous peoples have played in shaping the country.

Three days earlier, President Joe Biden became the first president to issue a proclamation of Indigenous Peoples' Day.

"For generations, Federal policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures," Biden wrote in the Indigenous Peoples' Day proclamation. "Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples' resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society."

Tribal Chairman Jamie Stuck of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi celebrated Whitmer's decision.

“The proclamation for Indigenous Peoples' Day is a significant step forward in acknowledging the myriad contributions of the first peoples of the Great Lakes region to the culture and economy of Michigan,” Stuck said. “Our contributions include Indigenous traditional crops such as corn and beans that remain today a major part of Michigan’s agricultural economy. There have also been considerable hardships and challenges to be endured, all while maintaining our culture, history, and traditional way of life. This proclamation is a beginning to overcome the struggles of the past and to work together for a better shared future.”

Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus, issued the following statement today recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day:

“On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, let us celebrate the rich history, culture and contributions of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas.

“It is an honor to represent the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe. Throughout my time serving in elected office, I have always worked to recognize the inherent sovereignty of tribal nations as well as our federal government’s trust and treaty obligations to Indigenous peoples.

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“In Congress, I have helped to introduce legislation to establish Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a federal holiday. I am pleased to see President Biden become the first U.S. president to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day with a presidential proclamation. As a Member of Congress, I will continue working to support tribal governments and Indigenous Americans.”

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