President Biden proclaimed Oct. 11 to be the first-ever Indigenous People’s Day as Columbus Day weekend approaches. 

In recent years many activists have been trying to get the holiday renamed knowing Columbus’ incredibly harsh and cruel treatment of the indigenous people.

“We must never forget the centuries-long campaign of violence, displacement, assimilation, and terror wrought upon Native communities and Tribal Nations throughout our country,” Biden wrote

Biden says the nation was conceived “on a promise of equality and opportunity for all people” and that the nation has not lived up to that promise despite centuries of progress, especially for the rights and dignity of Indigenous people. “Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples’ resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society,” Biden added. 

In a separate proclamation, obtained by The Associated Press, the President also noted the positive role Italian Americans have had on society in the United States, but made sure to also reference the violence that Columbus and explorers unleashed on Native Americans. 

“Today, we also acknowledge the painful history of wrongs and atrocities that many European explorers inflicted on Tribal Nations and Indigenous communities,” Biden said. “It is a measure of our greatness as a Nation that we do not seek to bury these shameful episodes of our past — that we face them honestly, we bring them to the light, and we do all we can to address them.”

Columbus was known to pillage, rape, and enslave the native people for Spain. Columbus is also responsible for many atrocities such as threatening death to natives who didn’t bring him enough gold, according to the Laurence  Bergreen book “Columbus: The Four Voyages,” (via Vox).  

The population of Hispaniola fell dramatically following Columbus’ first voyage. Hispaniola had about 300,000 inhabitants in 1492, but between 1494 and 1496, 100,000 had died, with half allegedly committing mass suicide. By 1548 Hispaniola’s population was down to a staggering 500. 

In honor of Indigenous people all over the country and their diverse history, Biden has ordered flags on all public buildings to be lowered to half-staff.