fb-pixel Skip to main content

Acting Mayor Janey signs order designating Monday as Indigenous Peoples Day in Boston

Acting Mayor Kim Janey, center, poses for a photo with advocates who helped with the Indigenous Peoples Day declaration.
Acting Mayor Kim Janey, center, poses for a photo with advocates who helped with the Indigenous Peoples Day declaration.City of Boston

Acting Mayor Kim Janey has signed an executive order declaring Monday to be Indigenous Peoples Day in Boston, her office said in a statement.

The statement said the order, signed Wednesday, establishes every second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day going forward, to recognize the land where Boston sits as the traditional homeland of the Massachusett Tribe and neighboring Wampanoag and Nipmuc tribes.

Janey encouraged businesses, organizations, and public institutions to use Monday as a time to reflect on the historic suppression of indigenous cultures, the statement said.

“Indigenous Peoples Day celebrates the rich cultural legacies of our Indigenous communities while also declaring Boston is ready to work with our neighbors to create a more just future,” Janey said in the release. “With Boston’s long history comes an opportunity and obligation to acknowledge the difficult parts of our past and dedicate ourselves to fostering a more equitable City. ”

The signing of the order stemmed from a collaboration between the United American Indians of New England, the North American Indian Center of Boston, and members of the Massachusett Tribe, according to the statement.

Advertisement



“The people of the Massachusett Tribe have been a part of what is now called Boston for over 10,000 years,” said Elizabeth Solomon, an official with the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag, in the statement. “For far too long, the indigenous history of this place has been obscured, and frequently erased, by the histories, myths, and priorities of the dominant culture.”

Solomon’s words were echoed by Kimimilasha James, an Aquinnah Wampanoag youth leader with United American Indians of New England.

“Indigenous Peoples Day brings a positive message about Indigenous survival and resilience in the face of genocidal actions directed against Indigenous peoples since 1492,” James said in the statement.

Gloria Colon, outreach coordinator for the North American Indian Center of Boston, said Janey’s order will help local Indigenous children feel appreciated.

Advertisement



“As a First Nation Migmaw mother, I am pleased that the city of Boston is honoring Indigenous Peoples Day,” Colon said in the statement. “Growing up in Dorchester I experienced racism, I was targeted just for being Indigenous. While our city still has work to do to make all people safe, it is important that Indigenous children are appreciated and included.”

Raquel Halsey, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation and executive director of North American Indian Center of Boston, also praised Janey.

“I’m so proud to have a Mayor who listens to community and works to make Boston an inclusive city,” Halsey said in the statement.

Janey’s office said Boston joins more than two dozen Massachusetts municipalities in recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day.

According to the statement, the movement to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day “has garnered allies within the Italian American community,” which has long marked the day as Columbus Day.

“By establishing Indigenous Peoples Day, Boston will honor the histories, cultures, and resilience of the First Peoples of this land - those who were here long before our ancestors arrived on these shores and are still here today,” said Heather Leavell, a cofounder of Italian Americans for Indigenous Peoples Day, in the statement. “We welcome the opportunities this holiday will bring us to move forward together in healing and reconciliation.”

Among the communities recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday is Newton.

Advertisement



The city will host events honoring Indigenous peoples, including at Newton City Hall beginning at 8 a.m., with a gathering of representatives from federally recognized tribes, according to the Indigenous Peoples Day Newton committee, which helped advocate for the new holiday.

Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller will host a ceremony in which local tribal leaders will honor five historic indigenous winners of the Boston Marathon, according to a statement from the committee.

A ceremonial celebration at Albemarle Park will run from noon to 5 p.m. and feature music, artists, speakers, performers, food, and vendors, the group said in a recent statement.

Last November, Newton’s City Council voted to replace the Columbus Day holiday following a longstanding debate over Christopher Columbus’s treatment of Indigenous people after arriving in the Americas in 1492 from Spain.

Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.