LANSING, Mich. Oct. 11, 2021 — State Reps. Mary Cavanagh (D-Redford) and Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) today announced legislation recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a state holiday in Michigan. Cavanagh introduced an Indigenous Peoples’ Day resolution honoring Native Americans’ deep legacy and continuing contributions to our state. Rabhi’s bill, House Bill 5392, would amend the list of state holidays to designate the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, in place of Columbus Day.
“This resolution honors the people who have been caring for this land long before Michigan became a state: the people who gave Michigan its name and who are a vital part of Michigan’s economy and culture today,” Cavanagh said. “Recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a small but symbolically important step for Michigan as we strive to engage equitably with our sovereign tribes and Native American Michiganders.”
“Our state’s official holidays should reflect what is most unique and laudable about Michigan,” Rabhi said. “Columbus Day valorizes violent conquest and celebrates genocide with an official holiday. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a recognition that Native Americans and all indigenous people deserve justice and that they are valued members of our society.”
“Long before the creation of the state of Michigan, the Anishinaabe of the Great Lakes lived and thrived here in our ancestral homelands,” said Whitney Gravelle, president of the Bay Mills Indian Community Executive Council. “The establishment of Indigenous People’s Day provides the opportunity to acknowledge all that indigenous people in the state of Michigan have accomplished: past, present and future. It reminds us to remember the true history of the land that we reside on here in the state of Michigan and learn about our state’s real history, while also celebrating indigenous languages, traditions, culture and heritage. Every day is a good day to be indigenous — but on Indigenous People’s Day, it means that much more.”
Cavanagh’s resolution would designate Oct. 11, 2021, as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, while Rabhi’s bill would make it a permanent state holiday on the second Monday in October. Under Rabhi’s bill, Indigenous Peoples’ Day would not add to the number of state holidays because it would replace Columbus Day in the statute. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is now an official holiday in several other states, including Maine and Alaska, and in a growing number of cities and counties across the United States.