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NM's Indian Pueblo Cultural Center Goes Virtual for Indigenous Peoples Day

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Today's Indigenous Peoples' Day will be celebrated in 14 states and hundreds of municipalities to recognize the heritage of Native Americans. (wiki.org)
Today's Indigenous Peoples' Day will be celebrated in 14 states and hundreds of municipalities to recognize the heritage of Native Americans. (wiki.org)
October 12, 2020

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- People across the globe can join the observance of Indigenous Peoples' Day in New Mexico today with a virtual celebration from the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque.

Last year, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day in New Mexico, to honor Native American peoples, their histories and cultures.

Jon Ghahate, museum cultural educator at the Cultural Center, said many indigenous people still practice social and spiritual constructs in their daily lives that trace back long before Christopher Columbus arrived in North America.

"We commemorate the accomplishments of all these civilizations that existed in the Western Hemisphere," Ghahate explained. "Their languages, most importantly, that gives us a sense of identity."

In the U.S., the second Monday in October has been officially observed as Columbus Day since 1971, but 14 states and hundreds of cities now use the day to celebrate Native Americans. The change acknowledges findings by historians that Columbus committed atrocities against Indigenous people he encountered in his voyages.

Ghahate said the online events will include flute music, dance performances, and historical and art presentations that recognize ancestral connections.

"Beginning with a blessing, acknowledgement of the land of our Pueblo communities; then we have some performances from an Aztec dance group. And this will be accessible to anyone online," Ghahate shared.

He added later this month, the Cultural Center will host Joy Harjo for a Zoom conversation. Harjo is the current U.S. poet laureate and first Native American to hold the honor.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM