NewsOne Featured Video
Young Navajo Siblings Riding Their Horses

Source: grandriver / Getty

UPDATED: 9:30 a.m. ET, Oct. 9

Indigenous Peoples’ Day finally allows us to highlight Native Americans and their contributions to American society.

On Oct. 8, 2021, Joe Biden became the first president to acknowledge the holiday declaring it a national holiday, which we now celebrate on the second Monday of October.

In this year’s proclamation on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Biden recognized the pain Native Americans have endured as well as their contributions to our great nation.

“Throughout our Nation’s history, Indigenous peoples have faced violence and devastation that has tested their limits. For generations, it was the shameful policy of our Nation to remove Indigenous peoples from their homelands; force them to assimilate; and ban them from speaking their own languages, passing down ancient traditions, and performing sacred ceremonies,” Biden said in a statement.

“Today, Indigenous peoples are a beacon of resilience, strength, and perseverance as well as a source of incredible contributions. Indigenous peoples and Tribal Nations continue to practice their cultures, remember their heritages, and pass down their histories from generation to generation. They steward this country’s lands and waters and grow crops that feed all of us. They serve in the United States military at a higher rate than any other ethnic group. They challenge all of us to celebrate the good, confront the bad, and tell the whole truth of our history.”

The indigenous Americans helped shape everything we know about agriculture. They’ve influenced our art, our music and even our way of life.

According to the USDA, 60% of the present world’s food supply comes from the American Indians’ agriculture, primarily consisting of corn and the so-called “Irish” potatoes. We’ve used their names for states, cities, streets, lakes, mountains and rivers. Almost half of our states have Indian names. Indian lore taught us how to fish and hunt and live off the land. Their teachings laid the foundation for groups like the Boys Scouts & Girls Scouts of America.

The U.S. Democracy was even influenced by Inca, Mayan and Aztec cultures. Many concepts in the United States Constitution can be traced back to the Iroquois Confederacy of 1142, the oldest living participatory democracy on earth.

Early Indians were Americans’ first explorers, traveling the northern and southern hemispheres, building pathways that would lead to our first roads and railways. Their historic knowledge of plant life would lead to our medicines, soaps and clothes. American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians have given so much to this country. Their contributions are invaluable and we wouldn’t have a country without them.

Quechua woman with alpaca wool and tool to spin it into yarn; El Parador de Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru.

Source: Greg Vaughn / VWPics / Getty

Here are 10 things you wouldn’t have without indigenous people:

  1. The log cabin was an adaptation of the Indian log or longhouse.
  2. Canoeing, lacrosse and tug-of-war were sports created by Native Americans.
  3. Corn, 14 different beans, maple syrup, wild rice, pumpkin and avocado all started with Native American farmers.
  4. Native Americans invented the first chewing gum.
  5. Although snowshoes were invented in Central Asia, it was adopted by Native Americans in the Great Lakes region of the early Americas. They evolved the shoe into what it is today.
  6. Barbecues, hammocks, kayaks and moccasins are all Native American words adopted into our modern culture.
  7. Native Americans developed and communicated with sign language. They used a system of hand signals to facilitate trade and other communications with other tribes.
  8. Tobacco, cigars and pipe smoking were rich Native American traditions.
  9. Cotton was originally a Native American resource. Europeans saw its value and created an entire slave trade to produce it on a national scale.
  10. Native Americans were the first known culture to use rubber. They used it to make containers, as well as a ball they played games with.


Happy Indigenous People’s Day! A List Of Things White People Have ‘Columbused’

The History Of Black People With Blue Eyes

50 Books Every Black Teen Should Read
Portrait of 12 year old boy reading a book
49 photos