Indigenous Peoples Day Legislation Passes the Alaska Legislature
Bipartisan Support for HB 78 Allows Passage on Day 90 of the Legislative Session
Juneau – Legislation to name the second Monday in October as “Indigenous Peoples Day” passed the Alaska Legislature today with bipartisan support in both the Alaska House of Representatives and the Alaska State Senate. House Bill 78 was sponsored by Representative Dean Westlake (D-Kiana).
“The outpouring of support for this bill has been heartening for this freshman Inupiaq in the Alaska Legislature. Permanently designating Indigenous Peoples Day in Alaska is a small but significant honor to the culture and history of Alaska’s First People,” said Rep. Westlake. “We are not replacing Columbus Day. We are establishing a day of recognition that honors the intermingling of cultures that makes Alaska such a great place to live. Putting it on Columbus Day exemplifies that we can all come together as one in celebration of Alaska’s unique history.”
“Indigenous Peoples Day” has been celebrated the past two years thanks to one year proclamations from Alaska Governor Bill Walker and the day is already celebrated in the Municipality of Anchorage. HB 78 would make the designation permanent and statewide.
“On October 9th I will join my Alaska Native friends and constituents in the Y-K Delta in honoring their culture on Indigenous Peoples Day. I hope Alaskans far and wide will join us in that celebration,” said House Bill 78 cosponsor Rep. Zach Fansler (D-Bethel).
“I think it’s fitting that Indigenous Peoples Day passed on this bright, sunny Easter Sunday in Juneau,” said Speaker of the House Rep. Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham). “It fills me with optimism that the Legislature has taken this step in the name of inclusiveness for all Alaskans and our state’s diverse cultures.”
"I'd like to thank Representative Westlake for sponsoring this legislation which will name the 2nd Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day. This is a great way to honor our indigenous people and I was happy to see broad support for it,” said Rep. Neal Foster (D-Nome).
House Bill 78 passed the Alaska State Senate today by a vote of 18-1. The bill passed the Alaska House of Representatives by a vote of 31-7 in February. HB 78 will now be sent the Alaska Governor Bill Walker for his signature.
For more information, please contact Elizabeth Rexford in Rep. Westlake’s office at (907) 465-3473.