Drum circles, prayer and notable speakers were at Mid Michigan College to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day which President Biden had issued the first presidential proclamation for on Friday.
Some of those in attendance were glad to see it finally happen, including Executive Director of United Tribes of Michigan, Frank Ettawageshik.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “My tribe, a long time ago, stopped celebrating Columbus day. We always felt that while there are certain things that Columbus did, and positive in some parts of history, but he certainly was not positive for native people.”
Ettawageshik said the recognition will give people more appreciation for indigenous culture and it’s their job to make that happen.
“It only has life if we give it life,” he said. “So, our job is to use this tool that’s been given to us and give it life.”
Chairperson of the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians Aaron Payment is pleased with announcement but says more work needs to be done to improve the quality of life for indigenous people.
“All of the back and forth at the national level of politics there’s an element of racism that it’s been given permission to so we’re still facing some of that,” he said. “That shows up in some obvious ways, but these are things, these are challenges that we can all get through.”
Indigenous Peoples’ Day was also declared a holiday by Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Friday.
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