Members of some 75 Native American tribes gathered for second day on Randall’s Island to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead.

“It was acknowledging that indigenous people are still here after 526 years of colonization, genocide, murder, and all the atrocities that took place in the name of Columbus,” said Cliff Matias, director of the Redhawk Native American Arts Council, the non-profit which organized the two-day celebration.

“We had a sunrise ceremony where elders and leaders from the various tribes in the area came out. We had a tobacco ceremony, and a pipe ceremony honoring mother earth and the sky and the water.”

“While we cannot change the past, we can realise and remember the pain that millions suffered throughout our nation’s history. We can also recall the tremendous achievements of the original inhabitants of our continent.”

“Most indigenous people don’t accept the idea that America was discovered by Columbus,” Fleming said.

Those who advocated changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day argue it is also about educating non-Native Americans about the history of the US before the arrival of settlers.

“We often say Indigenous peoples are erased in this region because many non-Native people do not seem to realise that we are still here, nor do they acknowledge the Indigenous history,” Munro said.

“Through Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we can focus the conversation away from the genocide that was started by Columbus and his men, and instead to the ongoing resilience and resistance of Indigenous people throughout the Americas”.

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