By Jessica Larson
Oct 8, 2015
After years of protesting, the Native American community can officially celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day in place of Columbus Day in Lawrence.
At the City Commission meeting on Tuesday, Mayor Mike Amyx declared Oct. 12 Indigenous Peoples' Day after recognizing that the City of Lawrence was built upon the homelands of the Kansa and Osage people.
“Indigenous peoples' intellectual, spiritual, and the deep cultural contribution has enhanced the character of the City of Lawrence,” Amyx said.
Christopher Sindone, president of the Haskell Indian Nations University's Student Senate, said he didn't understand how much indigenous people meant to the City of Lawrence because he didn’t think they meant much at all. Proclaiming a day for indigenous peoples is a step toward unity, he said.
“For them to pass something like this, as a city, from being at Haskell, that’s 180 years of resiliency by Native Americans acknowledged,” Sindone said.
Sindone said he felt euphoric about the decision because it makes Lawrence feel like the home of indigenous peoples again. He said his elders at Haskell experienced a very different Lawrence that did not celebrate natives’ identities. He said he knew this decision would make them happy.
“This [recognition] breaks a wall down, because there are already a lot of barriers for indigenous people,” Sindone said.
Lawrence joins cities like Portland, Seattle and Minneapolis that also celebrate Native American contributions instead of Columbus Day on Oct. 12.
Pictured: Haskell student Stevie Laravie Jr. from Lincoln, Neb., danced with more than 100 other students outside of City Hall on Tuesday night after Mayor Mike Amyx declared Oct. 12 Indigenous Peoples' Day.
UPDATE for clarification / 10/7/2015 - For many Lawrence residents, while celebrating the the declaration, it fell short of expectations.
As Barbara Wolfin wrote in a public post on Facebook,
"Y'all, today was a sweet & sour day.
Sour because the original proclamation submitted to Lawrence City Council specifically stated for Indigenous Peoples Day to be the 2nd Monday of Oct for this year and every year hereafter. City Council edited our Prolamation to only recognize 2015. We will continue to work on the following years.
Sweet because of the Communities, Organizations, Committees, Villages, Clans, and Tribal Nations that were represented while walking in unity & solidarity.
AN ESTIMATED 200 OF US SHOWED UP AND SHOWED OUT!!!
We filled the room, hall, and outside. We put out the call for our people to represent and y'all did just that! (Im personally PROUD of y'all)
Many people are to thank for this day in Lawrence history, THANK YOU!
We do this not for ourselves, but for strengthening the ties between the Lawrence community & the Indigenous/Haskell community, honoring of our ancestors, and for the next generations.
Don't forget about our Indigenous Day Celebration on Oct. 12. We have a line of speakers, performers, and free food!