MOORHEAD — Moorhead may be the next city to recognize Indigenous Peoples' Day on the same day as Columbus Day, if a new initiative passes the City Council.
The initiative looks to celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day on the second Monday of every October — the same day as federally recognized Columbus Day, which this year falls on Oct. 14.
Heather Keeler, a member of the Moorhead Human Rights Commission, brought the resolution forward, and the commission passed it unanimously. Now, the City Council is expected to vote on the initiative at its meeting Monday night, July 22.
“It’s a huge day on Monday,” said Keeler, of the Yankton Sioux and Eastern Shoshone tribes. “It’s important we recognize and celebrate the ancestors that came before us.”
While the U.S. government recognizes Columbus Day as one of its federal holidays, the state of Minnesota does not.
Other municipalities and states have taken similar steps to observe Indigenous Peoples' Day, with some even replacing Columbus Day, in an effort to recognize those already in the Americas prior to colonization.
In 1990, South Dakota was the first state to rename Columbus Day to Native American Day, according to the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.
Since then, the Minnesota cities of Bemidji, Grand Rapids, Minneapolis, St. Paul and Red Wing have passed their own resolutions to celebrate Indigenous people.
Before the Moorhead City Council meeting Monday, Keeler will lead a smudging and blessing that community members can also participate in so people can enter the meeting “with clean hearts,” she said.
“Every generation in our culture has lost a little bit of ourselves,” Keeler said. “This is just one of those steps that can start to bring that prideful feeling back in our culture for my kids and their kids and generations to come.”