It’s October 11, the second Monday in October. Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day to those in the United States. Happy Thanksgiving, all you Canadians. Happy Dìa de la Raza to those in Latin America or Dìa de la Resistencia Indìgena to any Venezuelans. Whatever culture you may be celebrating, for most of us in the Americas it’s a holiday; intended to be a holy day in which we pause and remember. Remember where we’ve been, where we are and, hopefully, think about where we’re headed.
In honor of this day, a poem from Joy Harjo, of the Muscogee Creek Nation, named the U.S.’s first Native American Poet Laureate, in 2019.
Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
From She Had Some Horses by Joy Harjo, 1983.
In the busy-ness of life we forget. We’re only human, after all. We forget over and over. Who we are, what’s important, what matters. Today may we remember. And tomorrow, may we remember again. And the day after that and after that, until our remembering becomes a habit.
For more about the history of this holiday visit: https://www.history.com/news/goodbye-columbus-hello-indigenous-peoples-day
Image: Miss America by Kent Monkman, Cree, b. 1965.