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The names of dozens of lakes, rivers, counties and cities in Iowa show Indigenous peoples’ influence on the state.
Pottawattamie County is named for the tribe that lived in the Iowa Territory. Wanatee Creek in Marion is named for the first woman elected to the Meskwaki Tribal Council. Even “Iowa” is a tribute to the Iowa, or Ioway, Tribe.
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That’s one of the reasons why, in 2018, Gov. Kim Reynolds declared the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day. According to her proclamation, the recognition was meant to “promote appreciation, reconciliation, understanding, friendship, and continued partnerships" among all.
Although Iowa celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day, Monday’s federal holiday is called Columbus Day. It’s named for the Italian explorer who first sailed to the Americas in 1492.
While some still celebrate Christopher Columbus, many people believe it’s more appropriate to honor the Native Americans who lived here long before he ever stepped foot on the continent.
More than a dozen states — including Iowa’s neighbors Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota — celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day.