TAKOMA PARK – Indigenous People’s Day is now an official holiday in the City of Takoma Park, Maryland after the city council gathered to officially recognizes the event at an Oct. 2 meeting.
Mayor Kate Stewart proclaimed Oct. 14, 2019 as Indigenous People’s Day in Takoma Park in an official statement, acknowledging the celebration of “the culture and sacrifice of the first people on this land,” as well as a counter to the designation of Columbus Day as a federal holiday.
“The day recognizes the October 12, 1492 landing of Christopher Columbus on an island in the Caribbean, marking the Europeans’ first contact with the New World,” the mayor said in an official statement. “This contact began centuries of settlement on lands already occupied by native peoples of the Americas and exploitation of the New World’s seemingly endless resources; indigenous Americans experienced conquest, enslavement, displacement, and disease which decimated the population.”
Also present to mark the official proclamation was Dr. Gabrielle Tayac, a historian and member of the Piscataway Indian Nation, one of the tribes officially recognized by the state of Maryland that resides in Washington D.C., Baltimore and throughout parts of Charles and Prince George’s Counties.
“We’ve been here (in Maryland) for thousands of years and we’ve been in Takoma Park for a long time also; This is a place that has been a place of activism and mobilization for a very long time,” said Tayac. “Some of the most significant national and international movements of indigenous people have gotten energized and organized out of people right here in Takoma Park.”
Tayac continued by explaining how the Piscataway ways of life are very much a part of the history of the greater Metropolitan area.
“The Potomac River, or the Anacostian River, named after the Nacotchtank tribe; these are all names that you’d say every day,” she explained. “All of these places you walk on have those memories and continuation of our people.”
The meeting was open to the public and other key agenda items included the recognition of Energy Efficiency Day, voting on two key resolutions on reappointment to the Ethics Commission and Grants Review Committee, a discussion of a Housing and Economic Development Strategic Plan and amendments to the Takoma Park Code.