Traditionally, the second Monday of October has been celebrated in the United States as Columbus Day, commemorating the day Christopher Columbus stepped foot on North America. There has been much criticism of this holiday due to Columbus and other Europeans’ treatment of the Native American population, but it was not until the 1990s that this criticism really started to gain momentum.
Indigenous People’s Day is a counter-celebration to Columbus Day that celebrates Native Americans and their culture. Many US cities have chosen to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day in lieu of Columbus Day (including Cambridge, MA, where we are headquartered!). Indigenous People’s Day shows a wider scope of our history without glorifying a man who inflicted great cruelty on the native population while colonizing their lands. Instead, we acknowledge all the wrongs that Native Americans have suffered and honor their culture and traditions.
There is still quite a ways to go before we fully acknowledge and accept our country’s deep roots in colonization, but there are steps we can take to ensure that we are heading in the right direction. One of the most important things we can do is teach our children about diversity, inclusivity, and cultural awareness.
Loving Me and Cradle Me are great books to introduce babies to various Native American cultures. Loving Me depicts a native family caring for a child. The family is not just limited to parents; it is a multigenerational one, from great grandmother to big sister. Each family member actively participates in the loving and rearing of the children, an important aspect of Native American families.
Cradle Me showcases different cradleboards used to carry babies. These cradleboards have long been a part of many tribes’ tradition, and many still use them today. Cradleboards vary from tribe to tribe, but one common thread is that they are often decorated by the baby’s family as a way to show love for the newest member of the family.
Another way culture is expressed is through language. Many Native American languages are no longer spoken, but tribes across the country are fighting to save their native languages through technology or education of the next generation.
At Star Bright Books, we recognize the importance of preserving Native American languages and cultures. We carry Cradle Me and Loving Me in Navajo/English and Ojibwe/English so children can see themselves represented in books and read stories in their native tongues. For more information on these languages or the preservation efforts, please visit the First Nations Development Institute or Native Languages.
Celebrate Indigenous People’s Day this year on October 8!