On Indigenous People’s Day, local tribe still fights for federal recognition

Tuesday is Indigenous People’s Day, a day set aside as a counter holiday to Columbus Day.
Updated: Oct. 12, 2020 at 11:26 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Tuesday is Indigenous People’s Day, a day set aside as a counter holiday to Columbus Day.

Native American advocates pressed states to change the holiday over concerns Columbus helped launched centuries of genocide against indigenous populations in the Americas

Columbus Day is federal holiday that has been historically observed as the day Christopher Columbus discovered America. Native Americans, however, reject the celebration.

Currently there are 14 states that recognize Indigenous People’s Day, paying homage to Native American tribes across the country.

“It hurts, it’s hurt generations,” said Chief Michael Jacobs of the Waccamaw Siouan Tribe.

That’s how Jacobs described the hundreds of years of suppression he said Native Americans have endured. As the leader of the Waccamaw Siouan Tribe, he admits it’s been a frustrating fighting for his tribe’s federal.

“It really troubles us," said Jacobs. “We’re really upset at the fact that home doesn’t really recognize us, but yet Wilmington and New Hanover county has and celebrated the fact of indigenous people’s day.”

Indigenous Peoples' Day is a holiday that celebrates and honors Native Americans and commemorates their histories and cultures. It started as a counter celebration to Columbus Day. Jacobs said the tribe has been trying to get on the agenda to plead their case to county commissioners in Bladen and Columbus counties, areas they call home.

Meanwhile, Governor Roy Cooper makes yearly proclamations, dedicating the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day An improvement for sure, but chief Jacobs says it’s the federal recognition that would give them much needed help in native American communities.

”It would offer us more opportunity for kids with schooling," said Jacobs. "It would offer more opportunities on the level with grants and stuff for federal tribes. Healthcare and things like this.”

Jacobs says being recognized is about more than just a name, it’s about a people and their storied history. With the increased awareness of Native American culture as well as a rapidly changing social climate in the country. Chief Jacobs believes they’re on the right path to getting the recognition they’ve longed for.

Copyright 2020 WECT. All rights reserved.