MENDOCINO Co., 10/12/20 — Today is officially Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Mendocino County, a holiday which was temporarily recognized by county officials in the past, but was made an officially recurring holiday by the Board of Supervisors with a proclamation in August, 2019. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is also celebrated by a number of cities and states across the country, replacing what was previously called Columbus Day.
The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors designated the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day during a supervisors’ meeting in August, 2019, although the board had temporarily recognized the day in past years. A number of local tribal members participated in celebration of the official county proclamation, which recognizes the “genocidal policies that often deprived them of their ancestral lands, their freedom and their lives; and sought to eradicate the language, culture, social and family ties of Indigenous Peoples,” and “recognizes and values the many contributions, both historical and contemporary, made to our community through Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge, philosophy, culture, art and labor.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom also issued a declaration this afternoon declaring October 12, 2020 as Indigenous Peoples’ Day (see full proclamation below). This is the second year in a row that Newsom has declared the second holiday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, although he has not declared a recurring holiday. California also celebrated California Native American Day in September.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, celebrations of the holiday have been modified or cancelled this year, although a small private iteration of the sunrise ceremony at Alcatraz Island, including representatives of the Round Valley Indian Tribes, took place this morning, an event which also occurs on Thanksgiving, to commemorate the American Indian Movement’s reclamation of Alcatraz in 1969. You can listen to the ceremony on KPFA, and there are also a number of virtual events taking place, including a day-long event at Santa Rosa Junior College.
Here’s a portion of the Mendocino County proclamation recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and you can read the full proclamation in our 2019 article.
WHEREAS, the area now known as Mendocino County has been developed upon the ancestral homelands of Indigenous Peoples’ who have continuously inhabited, utilized and cared for the land since time immemorial; andExcerpt from the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors’ proclamation in 2019.
WHEREAS, Indigenous Peoples’ across the United States, in the State of California and in the County of Mendocino, were subjected to genocidal policies that often deprived them of their ancestral lands, their freedom and their lives; and sought to eradicate the language, culture, social and family ties of Indigenous Peoples; and
WHEREAS, numerous Tribal governments and entities have survived in the area now known as Mendocino County and have worked to preserve and revive traditional Tribal practices and disseminate knowledge of them to the wider community; and
WHEREAS, Mendocino County recognizes and values the many contributions, both historical and contemporary, made to our community through Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge, philosophy, culture, art and labor; and
WHEREAS, Mendocino County wishes to formally recognize, honor and celebrate the thriving diverse Tribal governments, entities and cultures of the Indigenous Peoples’ of this region.
Here’s Newsom’s statement from today:
For the second year in a row, California proclaims today as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Today we celebrate the Indigenous peoples who call California home and who have survived and thrived in the face of unimaginable challenges to shape California’s past, present and future.
This year, as the nation reflects on our collective history, we honor the truth-telling of Indigenous peoples who have long advocated for us to embrace a fuller vision of our past. From highlighting the Native American rights movement’s occupation of Alcatraz to the important reconsideration of what figures are worthy of statues and monuments on display on state properties, Indigenous peoples have compelled us to shape a society more reflective of our values as Californians.
Our state is home to one of the largest and most diverse populations of Indigenous peoples anywhere in the United States. In addition to the many Indigenous peoples who have lived here since time immemorial, others crossed borders and oceans to get to California, and some made their home here as a result of federal policies that forced the mass relocation of Native Americans westward.
Since the first contact with Europeans, peoples indigenous to California have lived their lives in defiance of forces of oppression, violence and discrimination, including the genocidal “war of extermination” directed by California’s first governor. It is in recognition of that dark history that the State has taken steps toward reconciliation and greater equity for California Indigenous peoples. California has taken action to convey ancestral lands back to tribes for preservation of cultural resources; reassessed geographic place names, statues and monuments to better reflect our state’s values; and built upon last year’s formal apology to California Native Americans by establishing a Truth and Healing Council to embark upon the journey of healing together.
Reckoning with this past is essential to advancing justice and equity for California Native peoples today. We are faced with the stark reality that Indigenous peoples are being disproportionately impacted by the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic and make up many of the people on the front lines – tribal leaders making sure elders and communities are cared for, farmworkers ensuring that we have fresh food on our tables and medical personnel treating those who have fallen sick. As the state faces historic wildfires, Indigenous peoples have fought fires, provided shelter and shared traditional ecological knowledges of cultural burns to prevent future large-scale fires. And, in the midst of these challenges, Indigenous families continue to be impacted by the federal government’s xenophobic immigration policies, and construction of a border wall could threaten cultural resources.
In the spirit of reconciliation and reexamination, I encourage all Californians today to take time to celebrate Indigenous peoples rather than the forces that tried, and failed, to eradicate them. Let us reflect on how their resistance and persistence has shaped California for the better.
NOW THEREFORE I, GAVIN NEWSOM, Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim October 12, 2020, as “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”
IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Great Seal of the State of California to be affixed this 12th day of October 2020.
Updated 5 p.m. — This post has been updated to include information about Gov. Newsom’s declaration.