First ever Indigenous People's Day showcases art, dance, food

Patrica+Booker+and+Kali+Reis%2C+Boxer

Patricia Booker and boxer Kali Reis host a booth at Newton’s first ever Indigenous People’s Day celebration.

Andy Zhou

Newton’s first annual Indigenous Peoples Day event celebrated and honored indigenous peoples Monday, Oct. 11, at Albemarle Field. 

 The event showcased paintings, jewelry, accessories, food, and other items as well as causes like the North American Indian Center. Dances, songs, and ceremonies took place at a stage in the center of the field.

Many of the indigenous people at the event stressed the importance of having an Indigenous Peoples Day.

“It’s about time,” said Kali Reis, a five-time world champion boxer of Seaconke Wampanoag descent. “They try to erase our history. They try to erase our history from us individually via residential schools, or just even just try to wipe us out, so the fact that we actually finally have an actual day and a holiday to recognize what this actual country was built on is amazing.”

Many people expressed the replacement of Columbus day as a significant improvement. Luciana Daly, a seamstress of Mayan descent, added, “I feel like the tide is turning in the fact that we’re being recognized, that our day’s being recognized, that our history’s being recognized. It’s no longer giving praise to the conqueror, but to the people that received the onslaught of the conquering.”

The event aimed to provide opportunities for indigenous heritage to be appreciated. 

“My great grandmother, my grandmother, and almost my mom weren’t able to really grow up in culture and heritage because it was against the law, so it really means a lot that we’re actually able to practice ceremonies and have a whole holiday,” added Reis.

“For my grandparents, it wasn’t cool to be Native American, nevermind in America and black and from Central America,” said Daly. “My dad has passed away, but he would’ve been very honored to just see this.”

This event also offered a place for indigenous communities to gather together. “It’s a time for us to pause. It’s a time for us to be in community with each other. It’s a time for us to be able to share our stories, share our knowledge, and uplift all the work of our community members that have brought us to this point where we’re able to have this first annual celebration.” said Jean-Luc Pierite, the president of the North American Indian center of Boston.