SPOKANE, Wash. – Spokane celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day for the first time on Monday.
In August, the Spokane City Council voted to make the change from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
The celebration began at City Hall in Downtown Spokane near the Gathering Place. Local tribal leaders spoke and students from the Salish School of Spokane and Rogers High School Youth attended.
The event then moved to Canada Island around 2:30 p.m. There were traditional Native American performances from the Powwow Sweat Team and a blanket dance to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
"Our culture and our language were taken away for so long, and we're working so hard on bringing those things back," aid Donell Barlow, who attended the festivities. "I'm just so excited to be a part of that history."
City Council President Ben Stuckart said the goal of the name change is to honor Native Americans. For years the Nez Perce Tribe insisted that Columbus Day not be honored because they said he actively enslaved Native Americans.
People on Facebook had less positive things to say about the holiday name-change.
"People should be judged and held responsible for themselves...not their ancestors," wrote Valaria Perez. "I'm naturally born into the United States, therefore I am Native American."
"Who are the indigenous people?" questioned Scott Kelley on Facebook. "And do we have proof that they were the only ones here since the beginning of time?"
Jeri York brought a different point to the discussion on the KREM Facebook page, writing it was "odd how local commercials are having Columbus Day sales when this name change happened what, two months ago?"
At the gathering downtown, people like Donell recognized the frustration of the Columbus Day crowd, but insist the change was necessary.
"It's not even about Indigenous Peoples' Day," said Donell. "It's about what's going on all over the country with the pipeline and the protests. It's about protecting Mother Earth and the water."
In total, more than 100 people attended the Indigenous Peoples' Day celebration in Spokane.
Also worth noting, Monday is was still considered a holiday, so metered parking was free.
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