Monday is a national holiday in the US. Most people may know it as Columbus Day. Wider understanding of Christopher Columbus’ role in European colonization practices of the Americas and widespread destruction of Indigenous People’s lives and cultures caused many to rethink how we recognize him. In 1990, South Dakota replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day – a holiday meant to honor the culture and history of native people living in the Americas before and after Columbus’ arrival.
Today, sixteen more states, the District of Columbia and scores of municipalities formally recognize Indigenous Peoples Day.
In this time of social consciousness and focus on long-term value, it is unfortunate that there is a general lack of Indigenous concepts and voices on corporate environmental & social issues as part of ESG. It can even happen when Indigenous communities are directly affected by corporate decisions. Examples include destruction of sacred Aboriginal land in Australia for mining expansion and planned oil/gas pipeline pathways through Native American sacred lands – along with the resulting disputes that are lengthy and costly.
We are taking this Indigenous Peoples Day as an opportunity to further consider the impact of – and opportunities for – corporate ESG initiatives on Indigenous communities (I would welcome your emails on this topic). At companies, including more people from these communities in ESG conversations could enhance understandings and improve ESG strategies.