Indigenous Peoples’ Day began in 1989 in South Dakota where it was first called Native American Day, designated to be celebrated on the second Monday of October. In 1992, the city of Berkeley, California instituted Indigenous People’s Day in to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Americas. Since then, fifteen additional states have adopted the holiday along with more than 100 municipalities. In Connecticut, both Bridgeport and West Hartford participate in the celebration although state legislators have not yet passed a resolution to create a statewide holiday.
To commemorate Indigenous Peoples’ Day 2020, we offer some resources that provide information on the Indigenous peoples of Connecticut as well as the current lives of Native Americans throughout the country along with suggestions for a few local field trips!
Connecticut’s Indigenous Peoples: What Archaeology, History, and Oral Traditions Teach Us About Their Communities and Cultures by Lucianne Lavin who serves as Director of Research and Collections at the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington Connecticut and was previously a research assistant and the Yale Peabody Museum. The book is “ groundbreaking volume on the rich 13,000-plus-year history and culture of Connecticut’s indigenous peoples More than 13,000 years ago, people settled on lands that now lie within the boundaries of the state of Connecticut.”
The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present a 2019 National Book Award Finalist by David Treuer who also authored Rez Life: An Indian’s Journey Through Reservation Life (2012). This book chronicles how the loss of land, forced assimilation, military conscription and the pull of urban life have served to unify Native identity, moving into modern times and spawning a new generation of resistance and resilience.
Visit the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, CT which is currently open Fridays and Saturdays 11-4 pm and Sundays 12-4.
Visit the Yale University Art Gallery to see Place, Nations, Generations, Beings: 200 Years of Indigenous North American Art. The gallery is open Fridays 3-7 pm and Saturdays and Sundays 12-4 pm. Timed tickets are required and can be obtained through their website. Or, if you can’t visit the gallery, here’s video preview.