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Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich’s Statement on Indigenous Peoples’ Day

For Immediate Release: Monday 11 October

As we continue to address the racial and social justice inequities in Montgomery County, we cannot forget, nor overlook, the incredible injustice that Native Americans have encountered since the beginning of our history. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is our way of acknowledging that too much of the story about the founding of our country has been distorted, and today we celebrate the people who were here before any settler or explorer set foot on this land. Indigenous Peoples’ Day is about setting the record straight that America was not ’discovered’ by Christopher Columbus and the observance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day is our way of paying tribute to the original occupants of this country and their contributions to the history of this country despite the oppression they have suffered.

Captain John Smith, one of the founders of Jamestown in Virginia and his men, were the first Europeans to encounter the original people who lived in Montgomery County. In an article in Bethesda Magazine here, Mark Walston, an author and historian who is from Bethesda and lives in Olney, writes that tribes crossed the Alleghenies and eventually settled in the Potomac River Valley. They established hunting camps throughout the area, including one on the property that is currently home to the National Institutes of Health.   

This story is another example that there is so much we don’t know about the indigenous people who lived in our County and around the State. We are long overdue to teach and learn history accurately in its proper context. The establishment of Indigenous Peoples’ Day and discussions that should occur on this day are a good start to correcting the errors of our past. This is why I encourage the residents of Montgomery County to take time today to learn more about the indigenous people who were here before us. We also thank them for their contributions to the rich history of this County.

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The text of a Montgomery County proclamation issued in honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day can be found here.

Release ID: 21-028