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'We're Not Invisible': Minnesota Among Handful Of States Honoring Indigenous Peoples' Day, Not Columbus Day

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- For many Americans, Monday is Columbus Day, a federal and state holiday.

But in many communities and states, the celebration has changed focused to Native Americans.

St. Paul was the center of Minnesota's Indigenous Peoples' Day. Legally, it is still Columbus Day in Minnesota, but Gov. Tim Walz overrode that by signing an official proclamation that made Monday "Indigenous Peoples' Day."

The celebration started with a parade from the American Indian Magnet School to Indian Mounds Regional Park, considered sacred ground because it is the site of six Native American burial mounds.

Many who came out are children, who were proud to celebrate.

"It feels good to be around people that are native, and it's really nice to be around them, and being with other schools," said student Tamara Brownotter.

It is a day that serves as a reminder of who they are.

"We're not invisible. We stand out," student Tina Potter said. "This is our land, too."

Indigenous People's Day
(credit: CBS)

That sentiment was echoed by Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, a member of the White Earth Ojibwe Tribe and one of the first Native Americans to hold statewide office in the U.S.

"We are still here. We are here because of the strength, and we are here because of the resiliency of our ancestors," Flanagan said.

Afterwords, Flanagan and Walz acknowledged progress still needs to be made.

"We've got work to do. I acknowledge that the gap between indigenous achievement and white students' achievement is unconscionable," Walz said.

Gov. Walz and Lt. Gov. Flanagan say the state legislature would have to act to make this day officially Indigenous Peoples' Day in Minnesota -- something they say they would like to see happen soon.

"This is something that I think about every single day. I am the mom of an Ojibwe girl who is in the first grade," Flanagan said.

At least five other states officially celebrate some form of Indigenous Peoples' Day: Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, New Mexico and South Dakota.

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