Native Virginian leaders come to Richmond for third annual Indigenous Peoples’ Day


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The rich traditions and contributions of Virginia’s indigenous tribes were celebrated on the steps of the Virginia Museum of History and Culture on Monday.

Members of Virginia’s Nottoway Tribe, Patawomeck Tribe, Cheroenhaka Tribe and Mattaponi Tribe came to Richmond as part of the city’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebration.

As part of Monday’s celebration, Dr. Sheila K. Wilson Elliot, who chairs the Nottoway Tribe foundation, quoted the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address Greetings to the Natural World.

“We bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people. Now our minds are one,” Dr. Elliot said. “We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life.”  

This is the third year that Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney has proclaimed Indigenous Peoples’ Day a holiday in Richmond. The early October Monday, which in the past would have been recognized as Columbus Day, has shifted to instead recognize the legacy of the first people to live in North America.

“The fact that we are celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day – not Columbus Day – at this museum and in this city – speaks volumes as to how far we’ve come,” Stoney said. “The fact that this is only our third year doing so tells us that we have a ways to go.”

For the first time, Indigenous Peoples’ Day was also proclaimed at the national level by President Joe Biden.

However, unlike the City of Richmond which has elected to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day in place of Columbus Day, at a national level Oct. 11, 2021 was proclaimed as the official date for both holidays.

Biden’s release acknowledged the United State’s failures to uphold the “rights and dignity” of Indigenous people. He also recognized the vast contributions that Indigenous People have made and are still making to public service, entrepreneurship, scholarship, the arts and other fields.

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