UNITED STATES NEWS

Native Americans celebrate their histories and cultures on Indigenous Peoples Day

Oct 9, 2023, 5:00 PM | Updated: 5:01 pm

Performers from the Native American Hoop Dance of Ballet Arizona dance at an Indigenous Peoples' Da...

Performers from the Native American Hoop Dance of Ballet Arizona dance at an Indigenous Peoples' Day festival Monday, Oct. 9, 2023, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

 

Native Americans celebrated their history on Monday with events across the country marking Indigenous Peoples Day, from a sunrise gathering in Minneapolis to a rally at the Maine Statehouse and traditional dancing, music and food in Arizona and Alaska.

The ceremonies, costumed performers and speeches came two years after President Joe Biden officially commemorated Indigenous Peoples Day. At the time, he said the day is meant to “honor America’s first inhabitants and the Tribal Nations that continue to thrive today.”

At a gathering in Phoenix where dancers performed in traditional Aztec costumes, Sifa Matafahi said it was an opportunity to “pay respect to indigenous cultures … to reflect on our past and history while also acknowledging our cultural presence.”

In Minnesota, about 150 people, including the governor and lieutenant governor, attended a sunrise prayer and ceremony at Bde Maka Ska, a lake surrounded by parkland on the south side of Minneapolis.

“Today, we recognize our ancestors and predecessors who really laid the foundation for us to stand,” said Thorne LaPointe, a Native American organizer. “And we will always recognize our elders who are here and those who have gone on before us, who really kicked open the doors in their time, nationally and internationally.”

Seventeen states and Washington, D.C., have holidays honoring Native Americans, according to the Pew Research Center. Many of them celebrate it on the second Monday of October, pivoting from a day long rooted in the celebration of explorer Christopher Columbus to one focused on the people whose lives and culture were forever changed by colonialism. Dozens of cities and school systems also observe Indigenous Peoples Day.

In Augusta, Maine, several hundred people celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day by rallying outside the Statehouse in support a Nov. 7 statewide vote on an amendment that would require the restoration of tribal treaties that were omitted from printed versions of the state constitution.

Maulian Bryant, Penobscot Nation ambassador and president of the Wabanaki Alliance, said once people understand the importance to Native Americans, they will support it like they did when towns, and then the state, enacted Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Bryant recalled the successful grassroots conversations that took place about the legacy of Columbus, whose arrival brought violence, disease and suffering to Native Americans.

“We want to honor the true stewards of these lands,” she said.

Some who gathered for a ceremony in Anchorage, Alaska, said such a celebration would have been unheard of there six decades ago.

Gina Ondola, a Dena’ina Athabascan from the city, said she graduated from East Anchorage High School in 1962 with only four or five other Alaska Natives in her class and certainly no Indigenous culture club for Native students.

“We didn’t learn much about our history,” she said. Instead they were taught how white Europeans who came to North America were slaughtered by Native Americans.

“When I was growing up, I didn’t feel too much pride in being Native. I always heard about ‘drunk Natives,’” said Odola, who was wearing black gloves with red and white beadwork to represent her family’s colors.

“It feels good for me to be able to feel pride in who I am,” she said.

The Anchorage celebration included Alaska Native dance groups, traditional Alaska Native game demonstrations and a student wearing a “Molly of Denali” costume. The PBS show was the nation’s first children’s series to feature Indigenous leads.

Abigael Hollis, a freshman film student at the Institute of American Indian Arts, was among those who attended a powwow at a downtown plaza in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. It brought together Native American dancing groups from throughout the state and beyond, as well as Native American jewelers, potters and weavers who sold artwork at outdoor stands.

“It’s celebrating the fact that my ancestors lived to have me, and that we’re still around and that we can celebrate each other and love each other,” said Hollis, who is of Cherokee ancestry and wore traditional dress including a coming-of-age necklace made of buffalo bone and glass beads.

New Mexico, which is home to 23 federally recognized tribes, replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day through legislation in 2019.

The Santa Fe festival began with a blessing by dancers from nearby Tesuque Pueblo — an acknowledgement that the city stands on the pueblo’s ancestral lands, said Caren Gala, who heads the Santa Fe Indigenous Center and helped organize the powwow.

“We wanted to pay respect and homage to that — that this is their land,” said Gala, who is affiliated with three Native American pueblos, Laguna, Taos and Nambé.

___

Lee reported from Santa Fe, N.M. Associated Press writers David Sharp in Augusta, Maine, Mark Vancleave in Minneapolis, and Ross Franklin in Phoenix contributed to this report.

___

For more AP coverage of Native American issues: https://apnews.com/hub/native-americans

 

United States News

Associated Press

ConocoPhillips buying Marathon Oil for $17.1 billion in all-stock deal, plus $5.4 billion in debt

ConocoPhillips is buying Marathon Oil in an all-stock deal valued at approximately $17.1 billion. The deal is valued at $22.5 billion when including $5.4 billion in debt. Crude prices have jumped more than 12% this year and the cost for a barrel rose above $80 this week. As part of the transaction, Marathon Oil shareholders […]

24 minutes ago

Associated Press

Weather-weary Texas battered again as powerful storm, strong winds kill 1, cause widespread damage

HOUSTON (AP) — Power outages remained widespread Wednesday in storm-weary Texas a day after another burst of severe weather flooded streets, uprooted trees and ripped off roofs. Authorities said a teenager was killed at a construction site while working on a home that collapsed. The severe weather Tuesday, which at one point left more than […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Jury in Trump’s hush money case will begin deliberations after hearing instructions from judge

NEW YORK (AP) — Jurors in Donald Trump’s hush money trial are expected to begin deliberations Wednesday after receiving instructions from the judge on the law and the factors they may consider as they strive to reach a verdict in the first criminal case against a former American president. The deliberations follow a marathon day […]

8 hours ago

Associated Press

Appeals court won’t halt upcoming Alabama execution

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A federal appeals court on Tuesday declined to halt the upcoming execution of an Alabama man convicted in the beating deaths of an elderly couple during a 2004 robbery. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied two separate requests for an execution stay for Jamie Ray Mills, 50. Mills is […]

9 hours ago

Donald Trump speaks to the media as he arrives to court during his trial for allegedly covering up ...

Associated Press

Trump prosecutor focuses on ‘cover-up’ in closing arguments while defense attacks key witness

Donald Trump engaged in “a conspiracy and a cover-up,” a prosecutor told jurors during closing arguments Tuesday in the former president's hush money trial.

10 hours ago

Associated Press

A driver with an Oregon-based medical care nonprofit is fatally shot in Ethiopia while in a convoy

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A staff member with an Oregon medical care nonprofit was killed when the team he was traveling with in a convoy was fired upon in Ethiopia, officials said Monday. Mustefa Alkisim was a Medical Teams International driver traveling in the insecure Amhara region of Ethiopia Friday when men fired at the […]

12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Native Americans celebrate their histories and cultures on Indigenous Peoples Day