PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Next Monday won’t just be Columbus Day. It will be Indigenous Peoples Day.
The Portland City Council passed a declaration designating October 12, 2015 as Indigenous Peoples Day, a declaration tribal leaders have wanted since 1954.
“We’ve been here for hundreds of thousands of years, and we’ve been shy about telling our own story,” said Reyn Leno, the tribal chairman with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. “I think that has led the public to have a lot of interest in what we do.”
Leno said the history of the Native Americans has been overlooked and undercelebrated. The Portland area has the 9th-largest indigenous populations in the US.
“We’ve been working hard to tell our story and the story of all Native Americans, not just ours, and this is just one more movement toward getting that accomplished,” he told KOIN 6 News.
Dante James, the director of Portland’s Office of Equity and Human Rights, said, “This is an opportunity to create a greater conscience about who lives around us and the land we live on.”
The resolution is largely symbolic, but it’s much more to tribal members.
“You can pour all your concrete and lay all your grvel and blacktop,” Leno said, “but these are still the lands that our people walked.”