Montgomery County began recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day annually on the second Monday of October, historically associated with Columbus Day. Monday, Oct. 12, 2020 marked the first Indigenous Peoples’ Day officially recognized in the County. The County joins the cities of Rockville and Takoma Park, Washington, D.C., Alexandria, Va., Prince George’s County, numerous jurisdictions and seven states that recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
“This proclamation marks a long overdue change in how we celebrate the second Monday in October,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “As our County grapples with racial and social justice inequities, we need to recognize that too much of the story of this country has been misrepresented, and it is time to correct that story. This country was not ’discovered’ by Christopher Columbus; it was already occupied by people with a rich collection of knowledge, stories and practices. Observing Indigenous Peoples’ Day recognizes the original occupants of these lands, their cultures and the sacrifices they were forced to make.”
Councilmember Nancy Navarro said: “This is an important moment in our County’s journey. We join over 70 other jurisdictions in celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day, in choosing to highlight the stories and cultures of our Native communities. We are taking another step forward in our journey to create a more equitable system. While we can’t change the past, we can incorporate previously silenced voices into our historical narrative.”
Council President Sidney Katz said: “On Oct. 12, we officially commemorate the first Indigenous Peoples’ Day across Montgomery County and recognize that Native people were the first inhabitants of the Americas. I want to thank Councilmember Nancy Navarro for bringing this issue to the Council and receiving unanimous support for a resolution making Indigenous Peoples’ Day an official day to celebrate and honor Native American peoples and commemorate their histories and culture.”
Numerous Native American tribes, recognized by the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs, call Maryland home, including the Accohannock Indian Tribe; the Assateague Peoples Tribe; the Nause-Waiwash Band of Indians; the Piscataway Conoy Tribes; the Piscataway Conoy Confederacy and the Cedarville Band of Piscataway Indians; the Pocomoke Indian Nation; and the Youghiogheny River Band of Shawnee Indians.
In the past, Montgomery County Government remained open on Columbus Day, and it will continue that practice for Indigenous Peoples’ Day. County Executive Elrich and the County Council will formally present the proclamation on Tuesday, Oct. 13, during the Council’s regular meeting.