Decolonizing Sexuality on Indigenous People’s Day

A woman wearing a headdress and face paint

This year the Los Angeles City Council voted to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day today rather than Columbus Day, “siding with activists who view the explorer as a symbol of genocide for native peoples in North America and elsewhere,” reports the Los Angeles Times. Indeed, given the historical oppression of Indigenous People/American Indians/Native Americans in the American Colonies and then the United States – indoctrination in boarding schools, forced migration, mutilations, massacres, smallpox infested blankets – it is time to recognize the struggles of those who lived on the American continent before any other human beings.

As Thelemites, we believe (wo)man has the right to love as he will. We believe that every man and every woman is a star. With this in mind, we acknowledge that colonialism has been layered onto Native sexuality. Intergenerational trauma in Native America includes the hypersexualization and fetishization of Indian women, contributing to rape and intimate partner violence.

With Halloween drawing near, we see more caricatures of ethnic personae across the board, but the cliche “Sexy Indian Maiden” and “Sexy Warrior” costumes are particularly damaging. Try finding stock photos of Native Americans — for example the image associated with this article — and you will see these tropes repeated over and over again. An American Indian sister notes that it is, “…difficult to arrive at the sacred whore under these conditions.”

Helpful articles about decolonizing sexuality:

Indigenous Peoples’ Day is usually held on the second Monday of October, coinciding with the federal observance of Columbus Day. It is similar to Native American Day, observed in September in California and Tennessee, and the same day as Indigenous People’s Day in South Dakota.

Learn more about Indigenous People’s Day:

The following locations celebrate Indigenous People’s Day instead of Columbus Day, with the exception of Lewiston, New York, which celebrates both.

  • Berkeley, California
  • Santa Cruz, California
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Grand Rapids, Minnesota
  • Minnesota State University, Mankato
  • Paul, Minnesota
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Traverse City, Michigan
  • Akron/Newstead, New York
  • Olympia, Washington
  • Village of Lewiston, New York
  • Anadarko, Oklahoma
  • Carrboro, North Carolina
  • Belfast, Maine
  • San Fernando, California
  • Alpena, Michigan
  • Bexar County, Texas
  • Denver, Colorado
  • State of Minnesota
  • State of Vermont
  • University of Utah
  • Brown University
  • Cornell University
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Spokane, Washington
  • Bainbridge Island, Washington
  • East Lansing, Michigan
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • State of Alaska
  • Ypsilanti, Michigan
  • Durango, Colorado
  • Asheville, North Carolina
  • Eugene, Oregon
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Boulder, Colorado
  • Lawrence, Kansas
  • Bangor, Maine
  • Brunswick, Maine
  • Davenport, Iowa
  • Durham, New Hampshire
  • Ithaca, New York
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Moscow, Idaho
  • Norman, Oklahoma
  • Oberlin, Ohio
  • Orono, Maine
  • Portland, Maine
  • Watsonville, California
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Tahlequah, Oklahoma



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