⬇️ More about Indigenous Peoples’ Day
As mentioned above, there’s a history of controversy when recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day and Columbus Day in Pittsburgh. For starters, the Columbus statue in Schenley Park remains wrapped in plastic a year after the Italian Sons & Daughters of America sued the City of Pittsburgh over its proposed removal of the statue. Pittsburgh officials covered the statue last October to protect it from being vandalized during a nationwide movement to remove statues associated with systemic racism.
Proponents of Columbus Day and its accompanying parade view the day as a celebration of Italian Americans’ contributions to America. Others consider the holiday to be a glorification of Columbus’ actions and legacy of harm to Indigenous people. You can learn more in this article where Pittsburgh City Paper spoke with Bloomfield (Aka Little Italy) community members about the issue.
How can I celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day?
📖 Start by learning about the Native Americans who called Pittsburgh home before it became a colonized city. Author Ed Simon takes a comprehensive look at this history in his book, An Alternative History of Pittsburgh. Native life is all around us, including the names of communities, rivers, and more — Allegheny, Aliquippa, Ohio, and Youghiogheny are just a few of them.
📰 This 2018 article by WESA talks about some of the tribes that call Western Pa., home such as the Seneca Nation, and how Europeans fought over the land and rivers that were vital to their lives.
📜 Going back even further in history, you can attend Archaeology Day with the Heinz History Center this Saturday, Oct. 16, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Rockshelter, a National Historic Landmark and the oldest site of human habitation in North America.
🖊️ If you’d like a more modern look on what it’s like to be an indigenous person in Pittsburgh, read this first-person story by Native educator Lee Dingus of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy published by PublicSource. The Iroquois people have always inhabited the tri-state area, but despite that, Lee recounts racist stereotypes and judgement from Pittsburghers. Still, she channels wisdom from her elders to educate the next generation to be more understanding and accepting.