Native communities prepare to reflect, share traditions on Indigenous Peoples' Day
Almost 100,000 Native Americans make up twelve federally-recognized tribes in the state. Michigan is among a handful of states that formally recognize the holiday, which is Monday.
Monday marks the fourth year Michigan will recognize Indigenous Peoples' Day - meant to celebrate the history and culture of Native American communities and confront the nation’s oppressive past.
October is also the anniversary of when members of the Burt Lake Band were driven out of their homes near what is now Cheboygan. A local sheriff and his deputies burned down their village in 1900 at the behest of a local land developer.
Burt Lake Band tribal council executive director Nola Parkey said Indegionous People’' Day is about sharing stories like these - ones that acknowledge the decades of generational trauma native communities across the country have endured.
“When you have a special day, whether it's Indigenous Peoples' Day or Cinco de Mayo, you really are recognizing the fact that these people are part of Michigan,” Parkey said.
Almost 100,000 Native Americans make up twelve federally recognized tribes in the state. Michigan is among a handful of states that formally mark the holiday. President Joe Biden was the first president to recognize it on the federal level last year.
“The Native American people in Michigan have had their culture been ignored for a long time,” Parkey said. “(When it comes to Indigenous Peoples' Day,) any step forward is a good step forward.”
Many communities are holding celebrations and events to share traditions and educate others.
The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians are partnering with students at Northwestern Michigan College for a drum and dance ceremony Monday from 2-4 p.m. on the Traverse City campus.
Tribal Council Chairman David Arroyo says he hopes Indigenous Peoples' Day is just the beginning of a commitment from the state and federal government to uplift Native communities.
“It's important for the honest and real truth to be uncovered because so often when you look at curriculums, they gloss over indigenous history,” Arroyo said. So I hope that indigenous peoples day, although it's just one day, is the beginning of sharing that history.”
The Traverse Area District Library inside the Dennos Museum will also host events featuring stories, poems, and dancing starting at 11 a.m. Monday.
If another event celebrating Indigenous Peoples' Day was not mentioned in this story, please visit IPR's Community Almanac where you can submit your own community events.