NORTH ADAMS — The second Monday in October is now Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the city, Mayor Tom Bernard declared on Friday.
“There have been discussions on the recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day among School Committee, the IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) working group, and others to recognize the contributions and history of Indigenous People in our area — as well as pending legislation at the state level to establish Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a formal holiday,” Bernard said in a statement Friday. “This proclamation formalizes the conversations, the implicit commitment of the legislation, and the alignment with our values as an inclusive community.”
The proclamation recognizes that the city is on land previously occupied by the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians.
“The City of North Adams recognizes and acknowledges the ongoing trauma and historical harms, acts of genocide, and violations of human rights of Indigenous People caused by European colonization,” the proclamation reads. It adds, “The City wishes to honor our local Stockbridge-Munsee Community heritage and our national Indigenous roots, history, and contributions.” The entire document can be found on the city’s website.
“This is the start of a conversation,” Bernard told The Eagle. “We will need to look at the places where there is language that needs to be amended to formalize this.”
Bernard credited City Councilor Benjamin Lamb and School Committee Member Tara Jacobs in helping with the proclamation. A number of School Committee members and city councilors signed off on the proclamation, as well as Superintendent Barbara Malkas, according to the announcement. Bernard is encouraging people to read and endorse the proclamation, which can be done on the city’s website.