A proclamation for Indigenous Peoples Day 2021
Since time immemorial, Native Americans, Alaskans and Hawaiians have built vibrant and diverse cultures – and protected the land, language, spirit, knowledge and tradition for generations. On Indigenous Peoples Day, our nation celebrates the invaluable contributions and resilience of indigenous peoples, recognizes their inherent sovereignty, and pledges to uphold the trust of the federal government and contractual obligations to tribal peoples.
Our country was founded on a promise of equality and opportunity for all people – a promise we have never fully fulfilled, despite the extraordinary strides we have made over the years. This is especially true when it comes to upholding the rights and dignity of the indigenous people who lived here long before the colonization of America began. For generations, federal politics systematically tried to assimilate and evict indigenous people and to exterminate indigenous cultures. Today we recognize the resilience and strength of the indigenous peoples, as well as the immeasurable positive influence they have had on every aspect of American society. We also re-commit to support a new, brighter future of promise and justice for tribal peoples – a future based on tribal sovereignty and respect for the human rights of indigenous peoples in America and around the world.
During the first week of my tenure, I issued a memorandum reaffirming our nation’s solemn fiduciary and contractual obligations to the tribal peoples of the Indians and Native Americans, and instructed the heads of executive departments and agencies to consult regularly, meaningfully, and consistently to conduct with tribal officials. It is a priority of my government to make respect for tribal sovereignty and self-government the cornerstone of Indian federal policy. History shows that Native Americans – and our nation as a whole – are best served when tribal governments are empowered to run their communities and when federal officials listen to and work with tribal leaders in formulating federal policies that affect tribal nations.
The contributions tribal peoples have made throughout history – in public service, entrepreneurship, science, the arts, and countless other areas – are integral to our nation, our culture, and our society. Indigenous peoples have served with distinction and honor in the United States Armed Forces, and continue to serve – at one of the highest rates of any group – defending our security every day. And Native Americans were at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic, working important jobs and carrying us through our worst moments. Recognizing that the pandemic has harmed indigenous peoples at alarming and disproportionate levels, indigenous communities have taken the lead in connecting people to vaccinations and have some of the highest rates of any race or ethnic group.
The federal government has a solemn obligation to stand up and invest in the future of indigenous peoples and empower tribal nations to rule their own communities and make their own decisions. We must never forget the centuries-long campaign of violence, displacement, assimilation and terror that has been inflicted on indigenous communities and nations across our country. Today we recognize the significant sacrifices that the indigenous peoples have made to this land – and recognize their many ongoing contributions to our nation.
On Indigenous Peoples Day, we honor America’s first residents and the tribal nations that continue to thrive today. I encourage everyone to celebrate and recognize the many indigenous communities and cultures that make up our great country.
THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, hereby declare October 11th, 2021 Indigenous Peoples Day. I call on the people of the United States to celebrate this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities. I also order that the flag of the United States be displayed on all public buildings on the appointed day in honor of our diverse history and the indigenous peoples who help shape that nation.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF I laid my hand on that eighth day of October, the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one and the independence of the United States of America on the two hundred and forty-sixth.
JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.