Skip to content

Smithsonian Day, also known as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, is a celebration of Native American histories and cultures.

It seeks to replace the traditional Columbus Day by shifting the focus from European discovery to the recognition of Indigenous peoples as the original inhabitants. 

Through educational events and public acknowledgments, the day aims to provide a more accurate portrayal of history. In essence, it emphasizes the resilience and contributions of Native communities.

Across the United States, states and cities are increasingly adopting this day as an official holiday. It reflects a growing movement to rectify historical injustices and celebrate the rich, diverse cultures of Indigenous peoples.

Schools, museums, and cultural institutions host a variety of activities, from art exhibitions to lectures and workshops that explore Indigenous traditions, stories, and current issues. 

These events foster greater understanding and respect for Indigenous perspectives and promote ongoing dialogue about the past and its impact on present communities.

Smithsonian Day is not only a day of celebration but also a day of learning, reflection, and recognition. The day highlights the importance of embracing and preserving the heritage and rights of Indigenous peoples across the nation.

History of Smithsonian Day

Smithsonian Day arose from a 1977 proposal at the United Nations International Conference to recognize the historical significance and rights of Indigenous populations in the Americas.

This proposal suggested replacing Columbus Day with a day that honors the original inhabitants of these lands.

The city of Berkeley, California, was the first to implement this change in 1992. It set a precedent that would gradually be adopted by other states and cities across the United States.

The movement gained momentum as various regions in the U.S. started to recognize the importance of reflecting a more accurate historical narrative. South Dakota, for instance, was the first state to rename the holiday in 1990, choosing to honor Native American culture and history.

Over the years, the observance has expanded, with educational institutions and cultural centers hosting events that emphasize Indigenous traditions, contributions, and contemporary issues facing these communities.

Today, Smithsonian Day encourages a rethinking of historical narratives and promotes education about Indigenous cultures through various events and activities organized by Smithsonian institutions and other entities across the country.

This day serves not only as a celebration but also as a platform for raising awareness about the ongoing challenges and achievements of Native American communities.

How to Celebrate Smithsonian Day

Celebrating Smithsonian Day, also known as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, can be a meaningful and engaging experience. Here are five playful and quirky suggestions on how you can honor the day:

Dive into Indigenous Literature

Grab a captivating book by an Indigenous author.

Whether it’s a gripping novel or a powerful memoir, reading is a fantastic way to step into the shoes of Indigenous peoples and understand their stories and perspectives.

Support Through Art

Attend a performance by Indigenous artists, whether in dance, music, or theater. This not only entertains but also directly supports Indigenous culture and provides a deeper appreciation of their artistic contributions.

Explore Educational Events

Why not join a virtual event or seminar? Many institutions host discussions and presentations that delve into Indigenous history, rights, and current issues.

It’s a comfy way to learn something new from the comfort of your home.

Connect with Nature

Engage in an outdoor activity that respects and honors Indigenous practices, like planting native species or participating in a nature walk guided by Indigenous leaders.

It’s a hands-on way to connect with the land and learn about sustainable practices rooted in Indigenous wisdom.

Culinary Delights

Cook a meal using traditional Indigenous ingredients or recipes. This will tantalize your taste buds and pay homage to the rich culinary traditions of Indigenous peoples.

Also on ...

View all holidays

National Table Shuffleboard Day

Find a local bar or rec center with a shuffleboard table and watch a tournament or learn to play the English game that dates back to the 15th century.

International Country Music Day

Kick up your heels and get ready to sing along to the sounds of the heartland. Catchy lyrics and twangy guitars await!

View all holidays

We think you may also like...

National Day of Remembrance for Indian Boarding Schools

Exploring historical approaches to Native American education unveils impactful narratives and perspectives worth remembering.

International Day of the African Child

Highlighting the importance of education and raising awareness about challenges faced by young people in diverse regions.

Calendar