group of students holding up protest signs for Indigenous Peoples Day at Milwaukee County Courthouse

In 2016,  fourth-grade students from Indian Community School saw something they didn’t like in learning about Columbus Day. With the help of their teachers, those amazing ten-year-olds drafted a resolution approved by the Milwaukee County Board, recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day in Milwaukee! That October, our school celebrated Indigenous People’s Day at our school, with elected officials and tribal leadership from many of Wisconsin’s tribes. 

The following year, in 2017, ICS students testified and held a rally in Madison at the Wisconsin State Capitol Building, with Milwaukee Representatives David Bowen and Lena Taylor, in support of a bill that declared the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day. The Bill did not pass but our students never give up hope! 

In 2019, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers signed Executive Order No. 50 here at Indian Community School, declaring the second Monday in October as Indigenous People’s Day throughout Wisconsin! All of our students and tribal leaders from across the state witnessed the signing. Three days later, our school was invited to the renaming of a Milwaukee County Park from Columbus Park to Indigenous People’s Park. Once again, our students, families, community and our school were there to unveil and celebrate another historic accomplishment! 

For more than 50 years, Indian Community School has represented Indian-controlled education, so when we say, “every day is Indigenous Peoples Day,” it really is! We take special pride in the work and determination of our students who made Indigenous People’s Day a reality for everyone in our state. Their efforts have made it possible for other children, in other Wisconsin schools, to learn about, appreciate and celebrate Native culture and ways. Hopefully, their work will inspire others across the country to do the same!