WINDOW ROCK – Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer thank New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for signing a historic bill into law on Tuesday, that officially replaces “Columbus Day” with “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” in the state of New Mexico.
President Nez and Vice President Lizer said the change is long overdue and that honoring Indigenous people will inspire all people, especially Navajo youth, to learn the true history of Diné people and the resiliency that continues to define Native Americans to this day.
“The federal government declared Columbus Day as a holiday without input from Native Americans and without knowing the true history of Native Americans. For many years, Indigenous people have protested Columbus Day because it celebrates colonialism, oppression, and injustice inflicted on Indigenous peoples,” said President Nez. “Observing Indigenous Peoples’ Day allows citizens to recognize our rich heritage and represents a step toward healing and growth.”
The Nez-Lizer administration also thanks New Mexico State Rep. Derrick J. Lente (D), Rep. Andrea Romero (D), and Sen. Benny Shendo, Jr. (D) for sponsoring the bill, which was approved by the New Mexico State Legislature in March.
Vice President Lizer said he is very hopeful that the change will also inspire educators throughout the state to teach the true history of Indigenous peoples, so that the younger generations will know the challenges that were overcome by Navajo people.
“Today, the ancestors are happy. The shift to Indigenous Peoples’ Day sends a strong message to the descendants of the people who once were sought to be extinguished that there’s a renewed appreciation for their resiliency and contribution to our great state,” said Rep. Derrick J. Lente. “It is a time to reflect on our understanding of our country’s history, both the good and the bad. New Mexico’s Pueblos, Tribes and Nations are what truly make us the Land of Enchantment. I applaud our Governor for signing this important bill into law so we can properly honor our Indigenous communities.”
In October 2017, as Vice President of the Navajo Nation, Jonathan Nez signed off on a proclamation to declare the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the Navajo Nation.