5 October 2022
On October 8, 2021, President Biden signed a proclamation declaring October 11 a national holiday to celebrate and honor Native Americans. It is celebrated on the second Monday in October, the same day as Columbus Day. While it is a federal holiday, not all of the states have adopted the declaration.
If nothing else, it is a reminder that there were thriving, advanced civilizations on this continent centuries before the Europeans landed.
There are no rules about how you can celebrate this joint day, but here are some things to consider.
If you are getting ready to plan next year’s landscaping, consider incorporating native plants into your garden. They are very easy to maintain and will reproduce without human intervention. They will also brighten your yard. Most will require full sun. Check the website for the National Park Service for more information. https://homegrownnationalpark.org/
Check out Etsy to see if you can find a dream catcher that will complement your décor. They are fun for kids who are prone to nightmares. Purchasing from Native American artists is as important as supporting your local small business enterprises. There are online classes in crafts that are attributed to Native Americans. Find one and see how you like it.
There are quite a few tribes that are prominent in the Finger Lakes area. Pick one or two and learn something about their culture. There are a number of books that are geared toward preschoolers and kindergartners. Check out your public library for suggestions. There are also good ideas at https://americanindian.si.edu/nk360 that focuses on the New York state area.
There will be celebrations across the country. See if you can find a video or podcast just to experience what goes on.
Let’s not forget about Columbus Day that was first celebrated on October 12, 1792 when Tammany Hall held an event to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the landing in the “new world,” although it actually wasn’t on our shores. It was declared a federal holiday by President Lyndon Johnson on June 28, 1968, and began as a celebration in 1971. From that time it has been observed on the second Monday in October.
Many Italian-Americans celebrate the day more for their own heritage than the exploration.
It might be a good time to discuss your family’s journey to the United States and how it has impacted your own history, emphasizing respect for their own heritage and respect for others.
If you want to party, think of a theme that ties into the natural beauty of your city and the Finger Lakes area. You can also branch into the concept of navigation and exploration. With a projected moon landing in only a few years, you can talk about what it means to go into the unknown.
For food, you can mix and match fry bread with truffle butter and serve grilled sausage kabobs. You can also make a cold appetizer of skewered cherry tomatoes, tortellini, salami, and olives. See how creative you can be incorporating native cultures, European influences, with your own family traditions.