Juneau – House Bill 78, which would establish the second Monday in October as “Indigenous Peoples Day,” was approved Friday by the Alaska House of Representatives. The legislation was sponsored by freshman lawmaker Rep. Dean Westlake (D-Kotzebue).
“The bipartisan support for creating Indigenous Peoples Day in Alaska shows the commitment of the House of Representatives to honor the native peoples and cultures that are at the very heart of our great state,” said Rep. Westlake. “I am hopeful this simple bill will receive the same bipartisan support in the Senate as we saw in the House with today’s vote. Alaska’s first people deserve this honor. All Alaskans deserve to celebrate together the wonderful shared heritage that is part of what makes Alaska such an amazing place.”
House Bill 78 builds on previous efforts to celebrate “Indigenous Peoples Day” in Alaska. The Governor has proclaimed one year observances of the day for the past two years and “Indigenous Peoples Day” is already celebrated in the Municipality of Anchorage.
“Recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day in Alaska has been a dream of many of us who believe that it’s long past time to formally recognize the contributions of Alaska’s first people,” said Rep. Harriet Drummond (D-Anchorage), who sponsored similar legislation during the 29th Alaska State Legislature. “The indigenous people of Alaska are an integral part of the spiritual, cultural, and historic fabric of Alaska. I look forward to celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day this coming October with my Alaska Native friends after this bill becomes law. That will be a very good day in Alaska’s history.”
HB 78 passed the Alaska House of Representatives by a vote of 31-7 and will now be forwarded to the Alaska Senate for consideration.
“It is an honor and privilege to support Alaska’s indigenous peoples,” said Senator Click Bishop (R-Fairbanks).
For more information, please contact Elizabeth Rexford in Rep. Westlake’s office at 907-465-3473.