ITHACA, NY – On Tuesday, Tompkins County will join a growing list of municipalities and organizations to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the second Monday of October — the day on which Columbus Day is traditionally celebrated.

In 1992, Berkeley, California was the first municipality to celebrate the history and contributions of indigenous peoples’ alongside with or instead of commemorating the end of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the Americas in 1492. Many cities and institutions across the countries have since followed suit.

Cornell’s student assembly passed a similar resolution in March, according to a report from the Cornell Daily Sun.

Tompkins County is located on lands that once belonged to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy (also known as the Iroquois) and Cayuga Nation, according to the proclamation.

You can read the full proclamation below:

[su_note]WHEREAS, the members of the Tompkins County Legislature recognize that the Indigenous Peoples of the lands that would later become known as the Americas have occupied these lands since time immemorial, and

WHEREAS, the County recognizes the fact that we currently stand on land that was the homes and villages of the Cayuga Nation and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and

WHEREAS, the County values the many contributions made to our community through Indigenous People’s knowledge, labor, technology, science, philosophy, arts, and the deep cultural contribution that has helped shape the character of Tompkins County, and

WHEREAS, the County has committed through its diversity policy and other non-discrimination policies to oppose the systematic racism towards all marginalized peoples including the Indigenous People in our region, and

WHEREAS, the County has for years committed to protect, respect, and fulfill the full range of inherent human rights for all as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and numerous other international human rights treaties, and

WHEREAS, Indigenous Peoples’ Day was first proposed in 1977 by a delegation of Native Nations to the United Nations-sponsored International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas, and

WHEREAS, the County proposes to honor our Nation’s and more specifically, Tompkins County’s Indigenous roots, history, and contributions,

NOW THEREFORE, I, Michael Lane, Chair of the Tompkins County Legislature:

  1. Declare the second Monday in October, 2016 as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Tompkins County
  2. Encourage other public institutions, businesses, and organizations to recognize the Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day3) Affirm the County’s commitment to promote the well-being and growth of Tompkins County’s American Indian and Indigenous community.
  3. Affirm the County’s commitment to promote the well-being and growth of Tompkins County’s American Indian and Indigenous community.

BE IT FURTHER, That the Tompkins County Legislature in recognizing the Second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, calls upon the citizens of Tompkins County to officially celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day in a manner that promotes respect, understanding and friendship, combats prejudice, and eliminates discrimination stemming from colonization.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereto set my hand and caused the great seal of the County of Tompkins to be affixed this the 4th day of October in the year 2016.[/su_note]

(Featured image: The flag of the Iroquois Confederacy, the Hiawatha Belt)

Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.