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First Indigenous Peoples Day offers peek into the future

First Indigenous Peoples Day offers peek into the future

Bill Walker and Sealaska President and CEO Anthony Mallott react to performances on October 9, 2017, at the Indigenous Peoples Day celebration at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall.

On Monday, Alaskans will honor the first permanent Indigenous Peoples Day, recognizing the first nations people and Alaska Native culture.

And they made it count, with traditional music, dance and plenty of frybread.

As Alaska residents celebrated their state's roots on its first Indigenous Peoples Day, community leaders made sure all those gathered know that the future of Alaska's native traditions is bright.

Columbus Day is still a federal holiday.

"What an incredible, incredible state that we all live in", Walker said Monday. This, after several years of stopgap measures to institute a Indigenous Peoples Day in the past.

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San Luis Obispo now joins about 50 other cities across the USA that have re-named the holiday.

The cultural shift has caused controversy in some places, much like the recent movement to tear down Confederate statues. The protest came as the New York Police Department ringed the statue in metal barricades and said it was providing round-the-clock surveillance of the monument.

More and more people want to recognize that Christopher Columbus may have sailed the ocean blue but he did not "discover" America in 1492.

One of the themes of this year's celebration was a recognition of Latinx indigeneity and the connections between indigenous people across the Americas.

While in Fairbanks, the University of Alaska Fairbanks held a ceremony on land that will house an indigenous studies center in the future. UAS Chancellor Rich Caulfield said the occasion offers important lessons for everyone. "It doesn't recognize and we don't speak about the impact that contact had on the indigenous people of our nation", said Darlene Trigg with the Social Justice Task Force in Nome. "Today's a day to learn about that for all of us and celebrate it". The law officially changing the day was signed into permanence as HB 78, which Walker signed earlier this year, with approval from the Alaska Federation of Natives.

In 2014, the Alaska Legislature passed a bill making 20 Alaska Native languages official state languages.


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