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Indigenous Peoples’ Day Celebrated in Arizona

Many traveled from the San Carlos Apache reservation to celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day and bring awareness for Oak Flat.

Phoenix has become the largest U.S. city to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Phoenix now sits alongside other cities such as Seattle, Denver, Minneapolis and Albuquerque.

On October 5, the Phoenix City Council voted 9-0 to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day as an annual city commemoration. This is not an official city holiday, nor does it replace Columbus Day.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day Arizona hosted a celebration on October 10 at the Puente Human Rights Movement building in downtown Phoenix. Approximately 200 people gathered to celebrate the history of American Indian culture, traditions and language. The group has pushed for the name change for months. The celebration was planned long before the City of Phoenix made its decision.

“It was an amazing and uplifting day for so many. It was a day to celebrate our survival and to represent our ancestors who have fought hard for all of us to be here today. Discovery on this land never took place and we are reclaiming the day and rewriting our story,” said Indigenous Peoples’ Day coordinator Souta Calling Last.

Artists, musicians and speakers included Indigenize, MC Rhetorik, Moch Man, Ruben Cu:k Ba’ak, Dr. Leo Killsback, Michael Tashquinth, Amanda Blackhorse and Well for Culture, founded in part by Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member Anthony “Thosh” Collins.

Collins got the attendees moving with basic exercises and stretches.

Members of the Gila River Indian Community addressed the crowd about their struggles and how we can stand together moving forward.
“If we look at our histories and ask our grandparents and great-grandparents, they could tell you that people weren’t dying of diabetes when they were young. That is proof that we should eat once again how our people were eating. We know that our environment is changing and there are some restrictions for farming and growing our own foods, but we need to get back to our ancestral and traditional foods,” said Collins during his presentation.

Some attendees showed up wearing traditional regalia. Signs were held high with messages such as “Water Is Life,” “#NoDAPL” and “Save Oak Flat,” and people wore custom tees with the saying “Native Americans Discovered Columbus.” All enjoyed songs, poems and stories into the evening. Dinner was also served to those in attendance.

For more information about Indigenous Peoples’ Day, visit www.facebook.com/ipdaz/.