Indigenous Peoples’ Day: A generational fight for recognition and understanding
For the third year, Seattle celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day in typical Seattle Style — with a march through downtown.
It’s a movement decades in the making and in Seattle, it’s the younger generations who are picking up the mantle to make sure their people, their culture, and their history are not forgotten.
“Back in school every day on October 9th, We would have Columbus Day and that’s the day I just tuned out,” said Ayanna Fuentes, event emcee, and organizer.
The 18-year old began her activism early, before she even turned ten, She worked with her mom and other elders in the “Abolish Columbus Day” movement.
“All it talked about was my people getting murdered and raped and just disappearing -- celebrating genocide. So that was a big day I just didn’t want to be me.”
Today is part of Ayanna’s vision. People celebrating their culture and sharing that with others.
Close to two hundred people showed up to Westlake Park to celebrate the culture of the millions of people whose ancestors have called North America home for more than 10,000 years.
Jenny Durkan, who is vying to be Seattle’s next mayor, was at today’s rally. She believes we have much to learn from the people who have lived and worked these lands for centuries.
“We have to remember that the indigenous people, the tribal people of our nation were the first here and they have much to tell us about what our path forward is to have a sustainable environment and a sustainable culture,” said Durkan. “I think it’s time to pull together and honor that tradition and history.”
Fuentes agrees and hopes schools will use this day to teach future generations of all people about the indigenous people throughout the Americas. She also hopes people are taught about the man Christopher Columbus truly was, and not just the myth of him being a hero who defeated “the savages.”
“When we go out and talk about him we’ll say ‘he killed our great ancestors, he killed out grandmothers, he killed our grandfathers he caused us historical trauma, now,” said Fuentes.
The movement away from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day continues to gather steam. Los Angeles and Austin joined in this year. More than 50 cities, counties, and states now celebrate the day.
The city of Seattle is one of the first cities to adopt the day, doing so in 2014. Olympia followed suit in 2015. Bainbridge Island and Spokane began celebrating the day last year. In Edmonds and Snohomish County, Monday is the first official day recognizing indigenous people.