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What is Indigenous Peoples’ Day?
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Workforce Management

What is Indigenous Peoples’ Day?

One-Minute Takeaway

  • Indigenous Peoples’ Day takes place on the second Monday of October.
  • It’s not yet a federal holiday, but many businesses still take the day off.
  • Companies can observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day with educational events, volunteer efforts, and ongoing projects like ERGs.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day takes place in the U.S. every second Monday in October. The holiday celebrates Indigenous people’s culture, history, and ongoing traditions across North America. Many states and cities have adopted it alongside Columbus Day, which takes place at the same time.

The Importance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day

This holiday offers a new perspective on the arrival of Europeans in the Americas. It highlights the impact had on Western culture, including Indigenous communities. While Columbus’ voyage undeniably changed the course of history, it’s important to acknowledge the complexities of that era.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day takes place on the same day as Columbus Day each year. It honors the resilience of these communities throughout centuries of challenges. More and more states observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day, even though it’s not yet a federal holiday.

The Origins of Indigenous Peoples’ Day

At a United Nations conference in 1977, Indigenous delegates proposed a day to recognize and celebrate Indigenous communities. The movement built up momentum through the 1980s and 90s, as U.S. state and city governments adopted the holiday.

Today, some states and cities have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Many places observe both holidays on the same date.

How Companies Can Observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day

There are many meaningful ways to observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day:

  • Educational Programs: Host Indigenous speakers, run workshops, or screen documentaries that raise awareness of Indigenous history, culture, and contemporary issues.
  • Curated Resources: Give your team a list of books, articles, podcasts, and other media created by Indigenous people.
  • Support Local Communities: Connect with Indigenous-led organizations in your area to offer donations, pro-bono services, or volunteer hours.
  • Sponsor Indigenous-Owned Companies: This could include financial partnerships, joint marketing efforts, or just encouraging your team to shop at these businesses.

Building an Inclusive Culture Year-Round

Like many holidays that honor a specific group of people, Indigenous Peoples’ Day is just one day out of the year. However, it can also be a moment to reflect on the importance of inclusion.

Some companies go beyond the holiday, looking for ways to honor Indigenous people year-round. This could become a part of your ongoing DE&I strategy. For example, you might focus on:

  • Community Partnerships: Establish ongoing relationships with Indigenous organizations. You could promote their work, utilize their services, or collaborate on projects together. If possible, your company could also offer mentorship or financial support.
  • Consistent Donations: Contribute to organizations that advocate for Indigenous rights.
  • Anti-Bias Training: Implement anti-bias and sensitivity training for your entire team, especially managers. This empowers them to recognize and interrupt implicit bias. Effective training can also improve your hiring practices and company culture.
  • Amplify Indigenous Voices: Consistently share content from Indigenous thought leaders and influencers. You can do this across internal and public-facing communications.
  • Offer Employee Resource Groups (ERGs): Supportemployee resource groups for Indigenous employees and allies. ERGs can boost employee engagement and job satisfaction.

What Indigenous Peoples’ Day Means for HR

Like any other holiday, HR plays a crucial administrative role here. If your company doesn’t close, you’ll need a way to handle time off requests. You should also decide whether that time off counts as vacation or PTO, or if you’ll treat it as a paid holiday.

In most companies, HR also handles anti-bias training. If you want all your managers to have the same baseline knowledge, you’ll need a formal learning management system like Paycor Paths. Once they get through the basics, personalized training can help each manager take their skills to the next level.

A commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) goes beyond simple programming. It means understanding the needs of your unique team and doing your best to support them. Make sure your people have the resources they need to thrive, on Indigenous Peoples’ Day and throughout the year.

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