Indigenous Peoples Day in Pittsburgh

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On the eve of International Human Rights Day, December 2, 2014, Pittsburgh's City Council of Pittsburgh passed a Will of the Council recognizing the 12th of October as Indigenous Peoples' Day in order to promote tolerance, understanding and friendship, and to overcome prejudice and eliminate discrimination stemming from colonization. The measure indicates Council support for the inclusion of the teaching of Indigenous peoples history as recommended by Indigenous communities in our public schools. This decision encourages truth-telling about our history, an important first step in the process of confronting and acknowledging the genocidal impacts of European colonization on native peoples. It is essential to promoting healing and to realizing a culture of human rights.

The Human Rights City Alliance is establishing a task force to organize activities to enhance public understandings of Indigenous peoples' histories and traditions, and to educate about the realities of colonialism, racism and genocide and their long-term impacts on Indigenous communities and other groups. If you'd like to join the Indigenous Peoples Day task force, contact us at pghrights[at]riseup.net


Indigenous Peoples Day 2017 --What you can do: We encourage everyone to play your part in changing our culture. This year do something to educate yourself and others about Indigenous Peoples Day and its importance to advancing human rights. Have a conversation with someone about Indigenous Peoples Day and about Pittsburgh's recognition of it.

Indigenous Peoples Day 2020

  • Recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day: Historical Truth-Telling, Reconciliation, and Trauma Healing (October 11-October 21)
We encourage you to make time during this period when we challenge conventional tellings of our history that valorize violence, genocide, and displacement of the Indigenous peoples whose ancestors lived in the places we call home. Student human rights leaders have identified the following resources and hope you will review them and share with others!
Online Events:
  • Weaponizing Whiteness: Past Terrors, Present Predicaments Friday, October 16, 2020 -12:00-1:30pm--Weaponized Whiteness by Fran Shor discusses the long history of “weaponized whiteness,” which was used to appropriate land and justify exploitation and brutality against Indigenous peoples and those targeted by U.S. imperialist wars. He traces its impact on contemporary activism opposing anti-black racism and promoting racial equity and justice from the 1960s onward. To register for this presentation visit: https://bit.ly/3i5JLhV
  • Dialogue Forum: Indigenous Peoples Day: Deconstructing white supremacy and celebrating the people’s history: Thursday, October 22, 7:00PM. Traditionally, October 12th, or “Columbus Day” has been celebrated as a day of patriotism and freedom, while in reality this narrative celebrates the exploitation, oppression, and genocide of indigenous people in our country. Indigenous Peoples Day is a day to recognize and remember the cultures that have survived, despite overwhelming violence and erasure through western narratives and other aspects of white supremacy. The Human Rights City Alliance is providing a short list of learning resources on this issue to draw attention to Indigenous Peoples Day and its significance, and is holding an online panel discussion to lift up the many issues indigenous people are facing in our country. Featured speaker,Dr. Leigh Patel, Associate Dean, University of Pittsburgh School of Education.

Watch, Listen, Read, Learn More!

  • Our Fires Still Burn: The Native American Experience (Film) -The stories shared in Our Fires Still Burn: The Native American Experience are powerful, startling, despairing and inspiring. They reflect an American history fraught with the systematic destruction of a people. Yet, amidst the debris of suffering and trauma, there is resilience and a profound remembering and healing taking place today, which will also benefit the next Seven Generations. This exciting and compelling one hour documentary DVD invites viewers into the lives of contemporary Native American role models living in the U.S. Midwest. (Available for online purchase or online viewing via Pitt library)
  • We Still Live Here (Film)-Âs Nutayuneân is the story of the revitalization of the Wampanoag language, the first time a language with no native speakers has been revived in this country. The Wampanoag’s ancestors ensured the survival of the Pilgrims in New England, and lived to regret it. Nevertheless, through resilience and courage they kept their identity alive and remained on their ancestral lands. Now a cultural revival is taking place. (Available for online rental/purchase).
  • The Henceforward (Podcast) The Henceforward is a podcast that considers relationships between Indigenous Peoples and Black Peoples on Turtle Island. Through this podcast series, we take an open and honest look at how these relationships can go beyond what has been constructed through settler colonialism and antiblackness, we investigate what our mutual obligations and possibilities for contingent collaboration are, and much much more. We aim to approach these charged questions with generosity and complexity. We reconsider the past and reimagine the future, in The Henceforward."
  • United Nations Statement: COVID-19 and Indigenous peoples-The coronavirus  (COVID-19)  pandemic  poses  a grave  health threat to Indigenous peoples around the world. Indigenous communities already experience poor access to healthcare, significantly higher rates of communicable and non-communicable diseases, lack of access to essential services, sanitation,  and  other key  preventive measures, such as  clean water, soap, disinfectant, etc. Likewise,  most  nearby  local medical facilities, if and when there are any, are often under-equipped and under-staffed. Even when  Indigenous peoples are able to access healthcare services,  they can face stigma and  discrimination. A key factor is to ensure these services and facilities are provided in indigenous languages, and as appropriate to the specific situation of Indigenous peoples.
  • "Indigenous people take the lead in healing the trauma of the Stolen Generations" (Article). ABC Science, Anna Salleh, May 31, 2020.
  • New Indigenous Strategic Plan establishes University of British Columbia’s role in upholding the rights of Indigenous Peoples (September 2020): Today marks a significant milestone in UBC’s commitment to truth and reconciliation: the university will celebrate the launch of its new Indigenous Strategic Plan (ISP). This makes UBC the first university in North America to commit to taking a human rights-based approach to its Indigenous strategic framework.

Indigenous Peoples Day 2017

Join area residents to read and discuss The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, an award-winning book by Sherman Alexie, a renowned author who will be visiting Pittsburgh on Monday October 16. Call up your local coffee shop, public library, or invite people to your home to discuss the book. Let us know about your event so we can publicize on our website and facebook page. Contact us at: pghrights [at] riseup [dot] net.

==View or Download Discussion Guide

Book discussion meet-ups

Final Report on Visit to US from the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples


Background on Indigenous Peoples Day: Wikipedia Article on Indigenous Peoples Day

Pittsburgh Stories
"Walk in Two Worlds: Native American Pittsburgh" by William Severini Kowinski
This is a slightly longer version of an article that appeared in the Pittsburgh City Paper, a free weekly, in the fall of 1992. The 500th year after Columbus turned out to be a good year for raising awareness of Native Americans. It was especially interesting to me that western Pennsylvania had been a crossroads for several Indian peoples, and they had played a large part in the history of the state after white settlement began. For awhile the Pittsburgh area was the frontier, and the kind of conflicts that occurred in the late 19th century in the west happened there some two hundred years earlier.

Indigenous Peoples Day around the Country & World**



From Latin America to Asia: Learning from our roots, A conversation on Vivir Bien. by Focus on the Global South

  • "Vivir Bien is a Spanish word that refers to the way of life of indigenous peoples in South America....Many of the underlying principles of 'Vivir Bien' can be found in indigenous cultures all over the world." The concept of buen vivir is seen as a key to helping us find alternatives to our current system, which is in crisis due to its unsustainable exploitation of the Earth and the people who live here.

Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt This graphic novel shows parallels between the struggles of native Americans, low-income people and people of color resisting displacement by urban 'development', and those fighting mountaintop removal in coal-mining regions.