Indigenous Peoples’ Day may be written with or without an apostrophe after s, depending on the style you follow.
The phrase “Indigenous peoples” in the name of the holiday can act as a possessive (with an apostrophe) or a descriptive term (without an apostrophe).
- Correct: Possessive: Indigenous Peoples’ Day
- Correct: Descriptive: Indigenous Peoples Day
Style manuals differ in their recommendations on using the apostrophe. The Chicago Manual of Style considers the name a possessive phrase and recommends placing an apostrophe after s. In contrast, the AP Stylebook suggests omitting the apostrophe to maintain consistency with other such holidays (like Veterans Day).
- Correct: Chicago style: Indigenous Peoples’ Day
- Correct: AP (Associated Press) style: Indigenous Peoples Day
This is in line with other guidance offered by these style guides. For example, there is an apostrophe in Presidents’ Day in Chicago style but no apostrophe in AP style (Presidents Day).
In a state where the holiday is official, follow that state’s official style: for example, it’s Indigenous People’s Day in New Mexico and North Carolina, but Indigenous Peoples Day in Wisconsin and Maine.
Use an apostrophe after s in Indigenous Peoples’ Day in academic and creative writing (following Chicago style) but omit the apostrophe in news copy (following AP style), unlesssuggests otherwise.
Here are some examples of both forms of use.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day was created as an alternative holiday to Columbus Day.— “Why was Indigenous Peoples’ Day created?” Encyclopedia Britannica (Accessed Jan. 15, 2023)
On the second Monday of October, Indigenous Peoples’ Day recognizes the Indigenous communities that have lived in the Americas for thousands of years.— “Indigenous Peoples’ Day, explained,” New York Times (Oct. 9, 2022)
A handful of states are celebrating their first Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday.— “Some states celebrate Indigenous people instead of Columbus,” AP News (Oct. 15, 2019)
Apostrophe before or after S?
When you use an apostrophe in Indigenous Peoples’ Day, always place the apostrophe after and not before the s in peoples to indicate that you are referring to multiple Indigenous groups.
- Incorrect: Indigenous People’s Day
Correct: Indigenous Peoples’ Day
Whether and where to use an apostrophe in the name of a holiday can be confusing, since this decision is often based on style rather than grammar. For a list of holidays written with and without the apostrophe, see Apostrophes in Names of Holidays.
National Indigenous Peoples Day is an official holiday in Canada and written as such, without the apostrophe.
If a holiday is official in a state or a nation, follow that territory’s official style. Internationally, the United Nations recognizes the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (note the use of the word peoples, not people).
Use of capital letters
Capitalize all three words in Indigenous Peoples’ Day regardless of whether you use the apostrophe. Names of holidays areand therefore capitalized.
- Incorrect: The first presidential proclamation of Indigenous peoples’ day was issued in 2022.
Correct: The first presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day was issued in 2022.