Alaska is now the first state to recognize the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day. Governor Bill Walker signed the proclamation this morning and First Alaskans President Liz Medicine Crow made the announcement at the Elders and Youth Conference.
“Well moments ago,” she told the crowd. “The inaugural Indigenous Peoples Day of Alaska!”
The declaration came on the heels of a similar announcement by Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz. The city now also recognizes the holiday.
The move is largely symbolic, Columbus Day is a federal holiday and state and city employees are required to report to work. But First Alaskans board member and former state lawmaker Willie Hensley says the declaration is important.