ONEIDA RESERVATION, Wis. (WFRV) — Tribal leaders of the Oneida Nation honoring those on Monday who never came home.

“We have great pride that we are still here today,” said tribal chairman Tehassi Hill. “Speak some of our languages, sing some of our songs, and have a government in place to rebuild what was taken from us.”

The celebration on Monday included music and songs that show the pride of Native American culture.

“We are celebrating generations of really resilient, really vibrant tribal communities. Communities that have such rich cultures, languages, and traditions that prevail today,” said Gov. Tony Evers.

Many times, those things are left out of history books. Monday is also Columbus Day, a federal holiday that honors Christopher Columbus.

“Christopher Columbus never discovered America, so it’s not historically relevant,” said Shannon Holsey, President of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians. “Unfortunately, it created a systematic justice of colonization.”

The governor also signed an executive order, issuing a formal apology and acknowledgment for the state of Wisconsin’s role in Indian boarding schools. Thousands of Native American children were taken from their families and homes and placed into those schools across the U.S., including children from Oneida Nation.

“Obviously this impacted their families and communities for generations,” Evers said.

The governor reiterated the resilience is what makes Monday’s celebration so important.

“Indigenous Peoples’ Day is every day,” said Holsey. “It’s examples through our actions, through stewardship to Mother Earth, to the advocacy and safety of our citizens.”

This is the third year the state has honored the holiday. It was first recognized by Gov. Evers in 2019.