Ky. House and Senate adopt Indigenous Peoples’ Day resolutions

Published 9:45 am Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The Kentucky Senate and House of Representatives have adopted permanent resolutions declaring the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day to honor and recognize “the unique contributions made by indigenous peoples to the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the United States of America.”

Stanford resident Angelia Arnett Garner was instrumental in getting both Sen. Rick Girdler (R) and Rep. David Meade (R) to sponsor the simple resolutions in the Senate and House.

“It is really a privilege to sponsor this resolution and bring attention to the history of Kentucky’s Indigenous People and their contributions to our state and nation,” Meade stated. “Many Kentuckians, including me, have Native American ancestors. My own great-grandmother was 100% Cherokee, so I personally appreciate the work that Angela Garnett Garner is doing to bring attention to our Native American heritage.”

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Girdler said, “Kentucky’s history is rich, and indigenous people are a part of our story.” Girdler added that he has a “great appreciation” for that rich history and through the simple resolution, and wanted to express his appreciation and “commemorate Native American peoples’ histories and culture.

Garner said it was her “honor and pleasure” to work with Girdler and Meade to get the General Assembly to pass the resolutions. “I’m really proud to work with them. They really made history,” she said.

Garner isn’t a Native American, she said. But her mother felt very strongly about preserving the Native American culture.

On family vacations, Garner said her mother exposed her and her brother to the Native American “culture and philosophy of living,” which in turn inspired her to become an activist for the Native Americans.

In 2017, Stanford became the first city in Kentucky to sign an Indigenous Peoples’ Day proclamation thanks to Garner. And last year she pushed for and received a statewide proclamation signed by the governor.

Garner said having the General Assembly pass the simple resolution, Kentucky is now the fourth state to have a permanent resolution making Indigenous Peoples’ Day fall on the same day as Columbus Day.

According to the resolutions, Kentucky was home to many Native American people for thousands of years and “historic tribes, including the Chickasaw, Shawnee and Cherokee, called Kentucky home before their forced removal…”

It states that today more than 30,000 American Indians “representing nearly 200 different tribes” live in Kentucky. Indigenous Peoples’ Day was first proposed in 1977 by a delegation of Native Nations to the United Nations International Conference on Discrimination against Indigenous Populations in the Americas. Currently more than 50 municipalities and 14 states celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the second Monday of October.

Because the Senate and House recognize and value “the vast contributions made to the United States by indigenous peoples’ knowledge, science, philosophy, arts and culture …” they have declared the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Kentucky.