President's Corner

Indigenous Peoples’ Day Honors the Power of Families, Grassroots Leaders and Communities

October 29, 2019

Luz Vega-Marquis
By Luz Vega-Marquis
President and CEO

When we celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day this month, I was struck by the power of the holiday. But I was even more inspired by the power of families and leaders who fought and won the right to honor their communities.

Every year, the list of cities and states honoring Indigenous peoples on the second Monday of October seems to grow longer. Each addition is a symbol of how Native Americans and other Indigenous peoples have worked to honor their stories and their struggles.

Their success shows how powerful families and networks can be when they raise their voices to lead change. It’s another example of how a movement of low-income families can mobilize communities and drive change, which is at the heart of Marguerite Casey Foundation’s mission and strategy. Networks are the mortar of the movement, unifying families, community groups and advocates around collective actions, such as honoring Indigenous peoples instead of Christopher Columbus.

It is this kind of collective advocacy in action that the Native Voice Network has driven since its inception in 2012. The Native Voice Network has built capacity in communities and among members and families with this work, mobilizing around Indigenous cultural values to inspire positive change.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day is also about communities and families claiming their stories and histories. Their work for this day, and for the movement, is a living embodiment of the theme of Marguerite Casey Foundation’s 2018 National Convening: “Our Power. Our Community. Our Change.”

Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day, not Columbus Day, is also about honoring a growing political coalition that can work on a wide range of issues, from land rights to education, Native leaders have stressed.

When we celebrated October 14, we celebrated another step in the march toward a more just and equitable society for everyone – a march led by and for families.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day Honors the Power of Families, Grassroots Leaders and Communities