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Celebrating Indigenous Peoples

This story was first published on Voices of New York

By Marco Poggio

NEW YORK - Dozens of Native American tribe members graced the Indigenous Peoples Day Native American Festival last weekend, in a celebration of color, tradition and folklore that took up an entire field on Randall’s Island.

Throughout the day on Saturday, Oct. 11, members of Native American nations wearing traditional clothes performed tribal dances, moving in circles in the middle of the field with an audience of about 200 onlookers.

Kichwa, Oneida, Ramapough Lunaape, Taino, and Unkechaug were among the Indian nations and tribes represented.

In between dances, some tribal leaders gave speeches in which they shared the history of their Indian nations, their values and ways of life.

“The best way to perpetuate humanity forward is to help each other,”said Edward Cuauhtlahtoa Jaramillo, 37, leader of a tribe of Meshika, the name native people gave to what is now called Mexico.

Members of some tribes said the festival was also a venue to inspire cultural change, symbolized by opposition to Columbus Day celebrations.

Harry Wallace, chief of the Unkechaug Nation, a tribe based on Long Island, said the gathering was a venue to inspire people to stop celebrating Columbus Day.

“That’s a day of mourning for Native people,” Wallace said. “You cannot ask us to celebrate a holiday that honors someone who’s engaged in mass genocide.”

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