Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Honoring Indigenous Peoples' Day

A friend of mine does a lot of hiking throughout the year. It's always wonderful to see her scenic adventures on social media. When she posts her pictures and talks about each hike, she always posts as her final line something to the effect of this: "___ is located on the stolen ancestral lands of the Piscataway and Susquehannock people." It always gets me thinking.

On Monday, in honor of Indigenous Peoples Day, the college I attended posted this on Facebook: "rests on land once cared for by native nations including the Kiikaapoi/Kickapoo, Peoria, Očhéthi Šakówiŋ/Sioux, and Myaamia/Miami." I was impressed with their attention to whom the land originally belonged.

I grew up knowing the second Monday of October as Columbus Day. The whole "In 14 hundred, ninety two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue" mantra burned on my brain from being a kid in elementary school in the '70s. Since being a teacher and getting my Master's degree in Education in the mid 1990s, the emphasis was on multiculturalism and multiple perspectives. It governs a lot of my own perspective in life, knowing that there are a variety of people out there with different views and vantage points of my own. It's why I take a great interest in Intersectionalism and how it relates to many things, including the environment and social justice. I've long-used Jane Yolen's book Encounter to teach about Columbus Day, and while the age of exploration opened up a lot of the globe to people, it often came at the expense of the native people who lived there. 

All of this came back to me on Monday, October 10th, 2022 as I encountered my midwestern alma mater paying tribute to the lost ancestral land on both Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples' Day. I loved that my former university linked to the Native Digital Land website. [Additionally there are Apple & Android apps so you can have this information with you on your phone to use while you are on the move.] The goal of this interactive website is "to help map Indigenous territories, treaties, and languages." I love that they have a page on their website detailing "Why It Matters." Because it does matter. Words matter. Meaning matters. Representation matters. History matters. Land matters--and so does its sacredness to each of us. Acknowledging all of this matters. 

Using the Native Digital Land map search engine, you can zoom in and find the territories, languages, or treaties for anywhere in the United States to determine the native people that lived there before colonialism took over. You can also click to turn on or off the "settler labels" (aka: street names when zoomed in, city and state names when zoomed out). You can also click here for their Teacher's Guide to learn what else you can do with this website in your classroom. 

Signing off....while writing and contemplating all of this from land that originally were those of the Piscataway and Susquehannock people.

Title image created at and screenshots from

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