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October 12: Honoring Indigenous Peoples' Day in Arizona

Posted at 9:55 AM, Oct 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-12 21:21:47-04

Monday is being honored as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Arizona, after Governor Doug Ducey signed a proclamation last month.

ABC15 spoke with a group of Arizona State University students who are using the day to teach others and bring awareness.

Gabriel Garcia is the Communication and Documentation Coordinator for Voices of O'odham Students at ASU.

He says it wasn’t until he got to college that he started learning more about his family’s history.

“My mom doesn’t know much about our traditions and culture and that’s because my grandma had fears that the experiences she and her parents had with boarding school and the torture that came with that, she was afraid that would happen with her children,” Garcia said.

Elizabeth Quiroga says her grandmother had a similar experience.

“She was punished for teaching her language in school and told it was the devil's language,” Quiroga said. “She feels almost like a shame, I would say.”

VOSA ASU is now working to educate others about the history of Native Americans in Arizona.

“How exactly economic development and westernization has impacted us as a nation,” Garcia said.

Last month, Governor Ducey signed a proclamation declaring Oct. 12 Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

While the students say it’s a step in the right direction, they agree more needs to be done when it comes to accepting who they are and protecting and acknowledging the land we now live on.

“Recognizing where it is that you live, what land it is that you’re occupying,” Quiroga said. “Talk with your representatives and help indigenous people fight for what it is that we need.”

The students held a virtual event on Friday explaining the importance of land acknowledgment.

In the city of Flagstaff, leaders are also working to educate others about the history of indigenous people.

On Monday, they are holding a virtual event throughout the day. For more information, click here.

”I’m looking forward to adding more relatives to my list of people I care about and I think that I see that through working with the city,” Rose Toehe, Coordinator for Indigenous Initiatives with the city of Flagstaff said. “I’ve made so many more relatives. This is not just a day, but it’s more about kinship and relationships.”