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What is Indigenous Peoples' Day and why should it replace Columbus Day?

For all they've endured, Native Americans should be celebrated.

What is Indigenous Peoples' Day and why should it replace Columbus Day?

"In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue!" Because of that, we celebrate Columbus Day!

Ask someone who Christopher Columbus is, and you'll get some variation on that chant about the man who "discovered" America. We're told this really romanticized story about a brave man who crossed the ocean to discover a brand new world.

Thanks, Chris! Sure, you can have a national holiday. You've earned it.


How America was settled, as told by "Schoolhouse Rock!" GIF from "Schoolhouse Rock!"

But, as we know, Columbus didn't so much "discover" America, as "land on an already inhabited continent and claim it as his own."

Did it take bravery to sail off into the unknown? Absolutely. But it's kind of disrespectful to the land's indigenous people to claim Columbus "discovered" it.


Image by AFP/Getty Images.

That, along with a host of other reasons — Columbus and his crew's penchant for murdering, raping, and enslaving the locals, for example — is why there's been a real push in recent years to celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day in place of Columbus Day.

The idea of Indigenous Peoples' Day is starting to catch on in a number of cities across the country.

Seattle; Minneapolis; Albuquerque; Alpena, Michigan; Olympia, Washington; Anadarko, Oklahoma; Bexar County, Texas; St. Paul, Minnesota; Lawrence, Kansas; and Portland, Oregon have all made Indigenous People's Day a reality! Good for them!

A 2000 Columbus Day protest in Denver. Photo from Mark Leffingwell/AFP/Getty Images.

Why not just have a separate holiday for indigenous people? It kind of goes back to that whole "Columbus was a really bad dude" thing.

In Seattle's resolution to adopt Indigenous Peoples' Day in place of Columbus Day, they explained it like so:

"The City of Seattle has a responsibility to oppose the systematic racism towards Indigenous people in the United States, which perpetuates high rates of poverty and income inequality, exacerbating disproportionate health, education, and social crises."

The United States' history regarding the Native American population has been filled with everything from genocide to theft to systemic discrimination and exclusion. Throwing a party and parades for the guy who started that whole mess doesn't make things better.

And no one is saying that Christopher Columbus' contribution should be erased from history.

Columbus existed. He had a massive impact on history. But maybe he's not worth celebrating as some sort of savior or hero. If anything, this is a call to remember Columbus' history in a more thorough, accurate sense.

Image by Hulton Archive/Getty Image.

The mythology of Columbus is rewritten history and it's time that changed.

Just about anything learned in U.S. history classes frames everything as being a battle of good (America) versus evil (anyone we don't like). We frame ourselves as saviors in our contributions to wars and culture and technology and innovation.

For example, one of the most well-documented attempts to revise U.S. history has been an attempt to rebrand the Civil War as being about states' rights, taxes, or just about anything other than slavery.

Hey, I get it — no one wants to be like, "Remember that time we went to war because we wanted to own people? Yeah, that's embarrassing." So, Texas, for example, decided to just add that slavery was just a Civil War side issue (Just a side issue, guys! NBD! People make mistakes!) into its guidelines for textbooks.

Another example is how we talk about — or rather, don't talk about — the fact that the U.S. ran a bunch of Japanese internment camps around the time of World War II. We hear a lot about what happened at Pearl Harbor, us dropping bombs, and how we basically saved the rest of the world (You're welcome, BTW) in the process (Yay, America!). But we sure don't like to talk about parts that paint us in a less than pleasant light.

If those who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it, we're doomed.

We shouldn't erase history. We should embrace the real history of our nation — as ugly as it can sometimes be.

We must celebrate those who truly "discovered" the land. And that means honoring the indigenous people who were here before ol' Columbus came along.

Photo courtesy of Yoplait
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When Benny Mendez asked his middle school P.E. students why they wanted to participate in STOKED—his new after school program where kids can learn to skateboard, snowboard, and surf—their answers surprised him.

I want to be able to finally see the beach, students wrote. I want to finally be able to see the snow.

Never having seen snow is understandable for Mendez's students, most who live in Inglewood, CA, just outside of Los Angeles. But never having been to the beach is surprising, since most of them only live 15-20 minutes from the ocean. Mendez discovered many of them don't even know how to swim.

"A lot of the kids shared that they just want to go on adventures," says Mendez. "They love nature, but...they just see it in pictures. They want to be out there."

Mendez is in his third year of teaching physical education at View Park K-8 school, one of seven Inner City Foundation Education schools in the Los Angeles area. While many of his students are athletically gifted, Mendez says, they often face challenges outside of school that limit their opportunities. Some of them live in neighborhoods where it's unsafe to leave their houses at certain times of day due to gang activity, and many students come to his P.E. class with no understanding of why learning about physical health is important.

"There's a lot going on at home [with my students]," says Mendez. "They're coming from either a single parent home, or foster care. There's a lot of trauma behind what's going on at home...that is out of our control."

Photo courtesy of Yoplait

What Mendez can control is what he gives his students when they're in his care, which is understanding, some structure, and the chance to try new things. Mendez wakes up at 4:00 a.m. most days and often doesn't get home until 9:00 p.m. as he works tirelessly to help kids thrive. Not only does he run after school programs, but he coaches youth soccer on the weekends as well. He also works closely with other teachers and guidance counselors at the school to build strong relationships with students, and even serves as a mentor to his former students who are now in high school.

Now Mendez is earning accolades far and wide for his efforts both in and out of the classroom, including a surprise award from Yoplait and Box Tops for Education.

Yoplait and Box Tops are partnering this school year to help students reach their fullest potential, which includes celebrating teachers and programs that support that mission. Yoplait is committed to providing experiences for kids and families to connect through play, so teaming up with Box Tops provided an opportunity to support programs like STOKED.

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Dr. David McPhee offers advice for talking to someone living in a different time in their head.

Few things are more difficult than watching a loved one's grip on reality slipping away. Dementia can be brutal for families and caregivers, and knowing how to handle the various stages can be tricky to figure out.

The Alzheimer's Association offers tips for communicating in the early, middle and late stages of the disease, as dementia manifests differently as the disease progresses. The Family Caregiver Alliance also offers advice for talking to someone with various forms and phases of dementia. Some communication tips deal with confusion, agitation and other challenging behaviors that can come along with losing one's memory, and those tips are incredibly important. But what about when the person is seemingly living in a different time, immersed in their memories of the past, unaware of what has happened since then?

Psychologist David McPhee shared some advice with a person on Quora who asked, "How do I answer my dad with dementia when he talks about his mom and dad being alive? Do I go along with it or tell him they have passed away?"

McPhee wrote:

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!