Celebrating Indigenous Peoples' Day: A Message from President and CEO Loria Yeadon
Last updated: March 22, 2023, at 4:58 a.m. PT
Originally published: October 12, 2020, at 9:40 a.m. PT
Monday, October 12th is an important day, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, formerly recognized as Columbus Day. This holiday is in place to honor the real history of our nation, and to celebrate the lives, traditions, and stories of Indigenous people.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day is proof of our growth as a nation and proof that it is possible to interrupt inaccurate and harmful narratives, like the stories told about Christopher Columbus and other settlers in the US. This holiday gives us great hope and joy to celebrate and learn more about the tribes who steward the places important to us all.
At the Y, we are constantly seeking to foster relationships within our local tribes and learn how we can be better community partners. Through land acknowledgements, working with the Samish tribe for blessing Orkila cabins, and creating the Equity and Justice Center of Excellence, we have begun our journey, recognizing that much work remains to be done. In the personal words of our YMCA of Greater Seattle Board member and Muckleshoot Indian Tribe member, Madrienne White, “I believe this time of recognition represents a turning point in our society. The acknowledgment of Indigenous peoples’ contributions, struggles, and existence has long been omitted, misrepresented, or romanticized by institutionalized structures and systems.
I’m grateful of this revitalization in our society and communities, of becoming more inclusive and culturally relevant and responsible to the first people of this land.
This movement of acknowledgment is happening across cultures, governments, and generations, and does not just impact or apply to Native Americans. This re-education and filling in the blanks of history effects and benefits everyone in our community. We’re seeing the manifestations of these developments in our social consciousness across our nation. In protests, rallies, advocacy, and so on, people are eager to bridge divides, acknowledge the past, and address areas of social inequities Native Americans and people of color have suffered and endured throughout our nation’s history. These actions and recognitions will echo in time and pave a path forward that will influence future generations of citizens.
My hope is that these acknowledgments, proclamations, and resolutions, produce further opportunities for engagement. They are not just a time for photo ops or checking a box. Rather should be considered another step on our journey of inclusion and education as a society. As there is still a tremendous amount of work ahead to continue to cultivate meaningful relations with our Native communities with the public at large.”
To our native staff and community members who make the Y a better place every day, we stand with you in celebration and honor of this important day.
In gratitude and community,
Loria B. Yeadon
President & CEO, YMCA of Greater Seattle