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Michigan observes Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs
On September 8, 2000, the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs’ corridor in the U.S. Department of the Interior’s main Interior building in Washington, D.C., was dedicated as the “Hall of Tribal Nations” to honor the federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes of the United States.

The state of Michigan is celebrating the achievements of its tribal population on Indigenous Peoples Day.

Michigan first declared the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2019.

A growing number of states are either instituting the observance in place of, or in tandem, with Columbus Day.

This year, Indigenous Peoples’ Day became an official federal holiday.

"Today is a day of remembrance, reflection, and celebration of the Indigenous peoples, including those who call Michigan home,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. “The success of tribal communities is inextricably linked to Michigan’s success, and we must ensure that they have an empowered voice and seat at the table."

Professor Matthew Fletcher is a citizen of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, one of 12 federally recognized tribes in Michigan.

He directs the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at Michigan State University.

Fletcher said the declaration underscores America’s three levels of sovereignty.

“(They are) Federal, state and tribal,” Fletcher said. “They work together; a lot of amazing things come out of Indian Country. It’s an acknowledgement that Indian people and their tribes are doing amazing things.”

Fletcher added the day is also an important recognition of the federal government’s obligations.

“There’s a lot of poverty, there’s a lot of desperation in Indian Country that really cannot be eradicated without the federal government, the United States, acknowledging and fulfilling its trust duties,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher said that in 2020, Congress distributed $8 billion to Indian Country, significantly more than its usual allocation.

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