Why change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day?

Learn about the current movement to change the celebration of Columbus Day to a celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Thank you to all who attended our conversation. We discussed this press release calling for the change.

Other suggested reading:
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

This document will give you background and perspective from the American Indian Center.

Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem: How Religion Drove the Voyages that Led to America by Carol Delaney

Learn a Native language!

A great back-to-school project for kids and teens (and it’s not all online!)

A Potawatomi Language lesson. Click to hear the first lesson.

Please help us honor the true native languages of this land by learning and sharing nature words of local Native American Chicagoans. Here’s how!

  1. Watch this short video about why language preservation is important: https://theways.org/story/living-language
  2. Visit the St. John’s garden (next to 3857 N Kostner Ave). Write down the words for the things you see that you want to learn the names of i.e. dirt, grass, rabbit, tree, robin, flower, worm etc.
  3. Choose a language you wish to learn. We recommend the starred * languages because you can look up the word and hear how it is pronounced. You may want to choose a language that is your own heritage or a neighbor’s. For instance, the Ho-Chunk nation has an office near St. John’s on Milwaukee Avenue. Here is a list of the 15 largest groups of Native American people living in the Chicagoland area:
LanguageLinkColor of ribbon
* Potawatomi  https://potawatomidictionary.com/Dictionarywhite
Odawa/Ottawahttps://dictionary.nishnaabemwin.atlas-ling.ca/#/help  dark yellow
Ho Chunkhttps://glosbe.com/en/win  light green
Menominee  http://www.menomineelanguage.com/dictionaries-word-listspink
Oneida  https://www.uwgb.edu/dictionary/EnglishToOneida.aspxlight brown
Blackfoot  https://dictionary.blackfoot.atlas-ling.ca/#/helpmedium blue
* Ojibwe  https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/browse/englishlight yellow
Cree  https://dictionary.plainscree.atlas-ling.ca/#/helpgrey
Lakota  https://lakhota.org/teach-lakota/classroom-materials/dictionary/red
Dakota  https://glosbe.com/en/daklight blue
Navajo  https://glosbe.com/en/nvtan
Choctaw  https://glosbe.com/en/cholight purple
Cherokee  https://www.manataka.org/page122.htmlorange
Choose your own!http://www.native-languages.org/
Slide to see ribbon color assignments
  1. Write the Native word you learned in permanent marker on the colored ribbon indicated. If the word is something that moves (like a rabbit), tie the ribbon to a picture of it (which you draw or photograph or print). If you are a St. John’s member there is roll of ribbon in your Sunday School in a bag. If you need ribbon please email parishoffice@stjohnschicago.com and we will deliver some to you!
  2. Go back to the garden and tie the ribbon to the thing (tree, flower, wood etc) and bring some sticks to tie on the ribbons and put in the ground (rabbit, butterfly, wind).
  3. Practice saying the words!

Thank you for visiting our garden

Chicago is the traditional homelands of the Council of the Three Fires: The Odawa, Ojibwe and Potawatomi Nations. Many other Tribes like the Miami, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Sac and Fox also called this area home. Located at the intersection of several great waterways, the land naturally became a site of travel and healing for many Tribes. American Indians continue to call this area home and now Chicago is home to the sixth largest Urban American Indian community that still practices their heritage, traditions and care for the land and waterways. Today, Chicago continues to be a place that calls many people from diverse backgrounds to live and gather here. Despite the many changes the city has experienced, both our American Indian and the St. John’s Episcopal Church community see the importance of the land and this place that has always been a city home to many diverse backgrounds and perspectives. 

If you would like to express your appreciation for this sacred ground please make a donation to the COVID response or cultural programming of the Chicago American Indian Community Collaborative.

Link to the Chicago American Indian Community Collaborative website and donation page.

1) Plan and facilitate a series of events to support justice for Native American and indigenous people

New Ho-Chunk Legislators at swearing in ceremony, Madison, WI

Since the beginning of antiracism work at St John’s we have been especially concerned with our history as a predominately white congregation in northwestern Chicago.  How might have previous generations at St John’s unjustly taken advantage of their privileged status?  We immediately learned that St John’s was gifted with ownership of land that had been forcibly and unjustly taken from indigenous people living in the Chicago area.

Accordingly, we developed a land acknowledgement plaque affirming that the church’s land was previously home to many different Native Americans.  The plague has been installed in the front walkway on Kostner Avenue.  The plaque dedication, however, was not able to happen due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Our revised plan is to present a series of virtual events from now through the dedication event some time in 2021.  Some of the possible opportunities which need your leadership and support include the following:

  • Update the St John website to include resources and links about Native American people
  • Support the development of Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Chicago
  • Organize installation of art by a Native American artist or artists in the church garden
  • Plan and facilitate education and cultural events for adults and for children
  • Sponsor one session of Sacred Ground, a film-based dialogue series on race and faith developed by the Episcopal Church.  Session 3 is “Whose Land? Exploring Indigenous History”
  • Develop other ways to include Native American perspectives during our regular worship services
  • Promote, participate in, and help fund public events sponsored by Native American organizations
  • Identify and invite indigenous leaders to speak at St John’s
  • With guidance from indigenous people design the plaque dedication event (2021)

To assist with the Sacred Ground events, please contact Andria Anderson at classikal4ll@aol.com

2) Child and Youth Group Antiracism Education

Interfaith prayer service after the Mother Emmanuel shooting, June 2015

We are working to develop and obtain more antiracism education resources for our child and youth group education.

Another opportunity is to attend “How Do We Talk To Our Children About Race” Virtual training sponsored by All Saints Episcopal Church – Fall dates to be determined.

To help out with this gathering education resources or for more information on the virtual training, please contact Courtney Hug at corriehug@gmail.com .

3) Collaborate with neighborhood community groups such as the Northwest Coalition Against Racism and Hate

Members of St. John’s participated in the Faith Walk for #blacklivesmatter

Follow online and support organizations such as the Northside Coalition Against Racism & Hate, Portage Park For Action, Respect and Community (PPARC) and  Neighbors for Affordable Housing.

Upcoming event Juneteenth Car Caravan on Friday June 19th 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. around the Jefferson Park neighborhood. Sponsored by the Northwest Coalition Against Racism & Hate. Follow on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/nwsidecoalition/ for exact location details.

Courtney Hug and Erica Zazo are St. John’s liaisons this year to the Northwest Coalition Against Racism And Hate. Please contact Courtney or Erica for more info at corriehug@gmail.com or erica.zazo@gmail.com.

4) Organize and Promote the St. John’s Antiracism Library

4) Organize and Promote St. John’s Antiracism Library

We have two antiracism reading lists on our website:

Reading to End Racism – https://www.stjohnschicago.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Reading-to-End-Racism-Publication-FINAL.pdf

Wrestling With White Supremacy – https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:47a7ac64-c173-4a72-82ff-39170001e6fb#pageNum=1

We have some of these recommended books in the St. John’s library. We are looking for volunteers to set up and manage a borrowing system for the antiracism books and perhaps set up a curbside pick up program. To volunteer for this project, please contact Laura Singer at laura.t.singer@gmail.com

Another Source for books – All Saints Episcopal Church has moved their Free Antiracism Little Library to 3856 W Eddy St Chicago, IL 60618, Front Porch, Corner of Springfield and Eddy (near Addison and Pulaski)