National Indigenous Peoples Day

  |   June 21, 2022

On June 21, 2022, Canada celebrates National Indigenous People’s Day.

This day commemorates the distinct cultures and unique traditions of native communities, as well as the many achievements of the country’s indigenous peoples.

Marshall Henrie, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons1

Within Canada, three Indigenous groups exist; the Inuit, First Nations, and Metis. Their population is estimated at about 1.7 million.

Here in New Mexico, we celebrate this holiday on the second Monday in October. The State of New Mexico is comprised of 19 Pueblos – The Pueblo of Acoma, Cochiti, Isleta, Jemez, Laguna, Nambe, Ohkay Owingeh, Picuris, Pojoaque, Sandia, San Felipe, San Ildefonso, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Santo Domingo, Taos, Teseque, Zuni and Zia2 – including Navajo and Apache tribes.

I am from the Pueblo of Acoma. It is is known to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in North America3. The Pueblo sits atop a 365 ft. sandstone mesa. There is no running water or electricity, and you’re lucky enough to get any cell phone signal atop the mesa. However, there is a unique comfort in this escape from modern reality.

Before the pandemic, we would celebrate our Annual Feast Day on September 2nd. Outsiders were allowed to visit the Pueblo as spectators of our traditional dances and artwork. We would open our homes and invite people to share a meal, usually consisting of fresh oven bread, chili stew, posole, cookies, and much more. Visitors would often speak of their experiences atop the Pueblo while sitting at the table. They would describe the feeling of nostalgia, like magic filling the air, and would reciprocate their own backstories of their upbringing. It was truly enlightening.

Acoma is known to many of the other Pueblos as, “Haak’u,” translated as, “a place prepared.” We are bestowed a traditional name at birth and our Pueblo people belong to distinct clans; there are 13 clans in total – yellow corn, red corn, bear, sky, mustard seed, oak, parrot, sun, pumpkin, water, eagle, roadrunner and antelope; and because we are matriarchal in origin, I come from the yellow corn clan. And, finally, the language spoken by my people is known as Keres or Keresan. Other Pueblos, like Cochiti, Laguna, and Santo Domingo, also speak Keres, but in a different dialect.

Like many other Native tribes around the globe, our traditions and beliefs are very unique and sacred. However, we are bonded together through things like song, dance & prayer.

This humanness can be so heavy, but, as Indigenous people, we are reminded to never forget who we are and where we come from. For there will always be a place prepared to welcome us home; to embrace us, to relieve and comfort us. It takes a great level of trust to forfeit your rational stability and mundane conscious to fall into the web of complete, natural harmony, so you may return back with holistic reassurance and clarity.

I am thankful to have this life and to call Acoma my home. There is no place and no one I would rather be.

Dawaa’e (Thank you) for celebrating our Indigenous people!


Sources

1 “File:Aerial View of Acoma Sky City.jpg – Wikimedia Commons.” Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aerial_View_of_Acoma_Sky_City.jpg.

“New Mexico’s Unique Native American Communities.” New Mexico Tourism Department, https://www.newmexico.org/native-culture/native-communities/.

“New Mexico’s Unique Native American Communities, Taos Pueblo” New Mexico Tourism Department, https://www.newmexico.org/native-culture/native-communities/.

“Canada’s National Indigenous Peoples Day – June 21.” National Today, 19 Aug. 2021, https://nationaltoday.com/canada-national-indigenous-peoples-day/.