Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day
Today is Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a day to celebrate the rich heritage, culture, contributions, and resilience of Indigenous people in our region and here at King County.
Our region benefits tremendously from the generations of Native American people on whose land we currently live. There are 29 federally recognized tribes in Washington State, and King County is home to a thriving Native American population from Tribal nations across the country. We are on the unceded ancestral lands of the Muckleshoot, Snoqualmie, Puyallup, Tulalip, and Suquamish Tribes, and the Duwamish people.
The legacy of colonization and generations of racist practices and institutions continue to harm and hold back Indigenous people nationally and in Washington State. Native American people experience disproportionately worse outcomes in our community: health, access to housing and good paying jobs, educational attainment, income, incarceration rates, and more. Native American people have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, with higher rates of death and at younger ages than other races.
Yet as they have for generations, Indigenous people continue to stand strong in the face of racism, oppression, and injustice. We stand with them in the fight for their rights, and to protect and promote their culture, language, traditional life ways, and values – and their future.
Our government is better for the many contributions of Native American employees, and I want to recognize the efforts of our employee-led King County Native American Leadership Council for raising the voices of Native American and Alaska Native employees and serving as a link to Tribal communities and urban Indigenous people throughout King County. Together with our Tribal partners, we are working to develop community-driven solutions and a strong government-to-government relationship between King County and Tribal nations that will help ensure the Treaty of Point Elliott is upheld, and that Native American people can truly thrive in their own land.
Starting in 2022, King County government will observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a new annual paid holiday on the second Monday in October. This new holiday will provide an opportunity for us to deepen our knowledge about our nation’s history and the institutionalized practices and policies that continue to harm Indigenous people today. We will also use this day to further our understanding of Indigenous heritage and culture, and the many ongoing contributions of Indigenous people in our region.
Today, on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, let us join with the Indigenous community and honor their ancestors in fostering justice and combating racism, and building a strong future here in King County and across the United States. As a government and individually, we all have a responsibility to work to remove the barriers which negatively impact those from whom this land was taken, and an obligation to ensure future generations can thrive.
Dow Constantine, King County Executive