In 2021, the Biden Administration recognized Indigenous People’s Day as a federal holiday. The United Methodist Native American International Caucus (NAIC) believes this national observation is a clear contradiction with the continued observation of Columbus Day as a national holiday. “At best this revises history and at worst this denies history,” NAIC’s leaders say. “More needs to be done to unpack the implications of the Doctrine of Discovery. Churches across the country hold a central space in shaping this dialogue and proposing commitments that promote reparations, accountable relationships and healing.”
Statement from the NAIC on Indigenous Peoples Day
The Native American International Caucus (NAIC) applauds the celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day on October 10, 2022, and its recognition as a federal holiday for the first time starting in 2021.
At the same time, we decry and call for an end to the federally recognized, national celebration of Columbus Day.
The continued public recognition of Christopher Columbus as a symbol of discovery, exploration, conquest, victory, and celebration continues to do great harm to the 570+ Native American tribal nations in the United States, all of whom still live with the impact of systemic injustices and abuse initiated by settler colonialism.
The violence and theft inflicted by Christopher Columbus and European occupation of the land including dislocation and relocation of Native people perpetuate an unjust system of capital accumulation at the expense of generations of Native lives.
Moreover, we abhor all violence and genocide especially sanctioned by the state and blessed by the church in the form of the “Doctrine of Discovery” and stand firm in our United Methodist Resolution that unequivocally affirms, “The establishment, enactment, and progression of the Doctrine of Discovery influenced law and behavior, perpetuated a climate of violence against Native people through colonization, forced removals, enactment of treaties that were then regularly violated, killings and the "Indian Wars" continuing today in a subtler but in a no less violent and invasive manner” 2016 UM Book of Resolutions, 3321.
To continue to celebrate this inequity is contrary to the Gospel, “For freedom, Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery”(Galatians 5:1). Consequently, our United Methodist baptismal vows commit us to, “resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves”.
We, therefore, call on all elected officials as an act of trust to publicly recognize and secure Native people’s human dignity and sacred worth by recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day as a time to celebrate our culture, affirm our human rights as sovereign tribal nations, and repair the damaging legacy of settler colonialism and capitalism.
We further call on our Congressional and State legislators and President Joseph Biden’s Administration as an act of good faith to finally abandon and abolish the federally recognized celebration of Columbus Day and to repudiate our nation’s too often unchallenged allegiance to the “Doctrine of Discovery”.
The NAIC Board of Directors
NAIC Chairperson, Ragghi Rain
NAIC Vice Chairperson, Rev. Charles Brower
NAIC Secretary, Helen Cheromiah
NAIC Treasurer. Luke Lakota Eastin
NAIC Members at Large:
Pam Brayboy Baker
Rev. Neal Christie
Rev. Alvin Deer
Rev. Carol Lakota Eastin
Bishop Peggy Johnson
Rev. Jennifer Kerby
Rev. Adrienne Stricker