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City of Laramie officially recognizes Indigenous Peoples Day

Anti-Columbus and Pro-Indigenous People Signs on display during Indigenous Peoples Day in Laramie.
Jeff Victor
Laramie City Councilors proclaimed the second Monday of October Indigenous Peoples Day. The Native American Education, Research and Cultural Center at University of Wyoming hosted an event Oct. 11 in Simpson's Plaza.

The Laramie City Council announced last week that the second Monday of October will be known as Indigenous Peoples Day. It's the first time the city is recognizing the holiday. They say the day is both a time for reflection on the horrors of colonization, and a chance for celebrating the history, contributions and culture of Native Americans.

The city crafted its proclamation in collaboration with Native American student and academic organizations at the University of Wyoming. UW College of Law student Aly Sounding Sides said the proclamation helps Indigenous locals feel seen.

"As a Northern Arapaho woman, we grew up with stories about our homelands, and Laramie is situated within our homelands," Sounding Sides said.

Indigenous Peoples Day replaces Columbus Day (though the city of Laramie has not recognized Columbus Day in recent years). The new holiday has grown in popularity as more begin to question Christopher Columbus' legacy.

Historians say Columbus started enslaving Indigenous people the day he arrived on the American continent, enforcing his rule over Native peoples with torture, murder and sexual violence. Columbus and his men enslaved thousands of Indigenous people, forcing them into physical labor or shipping them to Spain. He murdered countless others, sometimes just to send a message to other enslaved Natives.

Growing awareness of these crimes and others has altered how many view what was once a celebration of exploration and new beginnings and has led many to call for an end to Columbus Day.

Locally, recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day helps the city to foster inclusivity and justice, according to the proclamation. Many spoke in favor of it last Tuesday during the city council meeting.

Reinette Tendore, who runs the university's Native American Education, Research and Cultural Center, said the recognition is important both for the Tribal nations that once occupied the Laramie Valley, and for the Native Americans who call Laramie home.

"This means a lot to not just one Tribe, but all Tribes that are in Laramie," Tendore said. "My Native students were a big part of writing this. This has been in the making for years. We've been talking about this in our Native community for years."

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