Watchlist: ‘Can Americans celebrate Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day?’

10.13.2022 Kamiah Koch Watchlist


By Kamiah Koch

Social media/digital journalist

Columbus Day is still a federal holiday celebrated the second Monday in October to mark the anniversary of Christopher Columbus arriving in the Americas in 1492.

However, President Joe Biden proclaimed the day as Indigenous Peoples Day in 2021.

ABC News shared a feature on Monday, Oct. 10, recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day as a day “celebrating the contributions of Indigenous people and recognizing the commitment to Tribal nations.”

To discuss the newly celebrated holiday, ABC interviewed Susan Faircloth, an enrolled member of the Coharie Tribe of North Carolina and director of the School of Education at Colorado State University.

In the first minute of the four-minute interview she is asked if it is possible to celebrate both Indigenous Peoples Day as well as Columbus Day.

“As an Indigenous person, it is difficult to honor and celebrate a day that was established in honor of someone whose arrival led to the taking of land, life, liberty and culture,” Faircloth says.

Faircloth says there are a variety of ways Americans can celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. She says many universities celebrate with Native faculty and students gathering on campuses to discuss Native cultures and issues.

As an education professor, she recommends opportunities for teach-ins, and bringing Native literature and Indigenous speakers into classrooms to learn more about Indigenous people.

“I would argue one day is not enough when we think about the wide variety of diversity of American Indian/Native American peoples across the nation with there being more than 600 different state and federally recognized Tribes,” Faircloth says. “We should think about ways we can incorporate Native Indigenous histories and teachings throughout the year and not limit it to one day.”

The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde began recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day as an official Tribal holiday in 2015.

To watch the entire interview with Faircloth, you can go to or find it linked in the Smoke Signals “Watchlist playlist” on our YouTube channel.