The story of indigenous people is often forgotten or ignored piece of history. The State of Arizona should recognize its indigenous population by celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day in lieu of Columbus Day. The lack of representation and information about native people has perpetuated damaging myths and stereotypes. Native Americans rank at or near the bottom of most socio-economic indicators — such as educational attainment, domestic violence, and poverty — and are often portrayed in popular entertainment, the news media, educational curriculum and other influential sources as 'noble savages’ of times past. Research shows that a more powerful, more accurate, and more inspiring narrative about the contemporary native experience — one of innovation, creativity, resilience, and community — s being overlooked and obscured by a negative one.
I would like to commend the town of Pinetop-Lakeside for establishing Indigneous People’s Day rather than Columbus Day; it is a step in unifying our two diverse communities. We must acknowledge the pain and suffering reflected in the stories of Native Americans. The past we share is marked by too many broken promises, violence, and deprivation. It is a history that we must recognize as we seek to build a brighter future … side by side and with cooperation and mutual respect for one another. By knowing the story of indigenous people we understand ourselves and others better. It binds us together and reaffirms that we all are Americans. If this holiday is adopted during the next legislative session it will help us recognize our mistakes and shake us from familiar narratives and make us uncomfortable, but it is precisely because of that discomfort that we learn and grow and harness our collective power to make this nation more perfect. That is the story Indigenous Peoples’ Day will tell; one of suffering and delight, one of fear but also one of hope. It is in our embrace of truth that we become stronger people.
Dylan O. Baca
Blue Ridge High School