FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
OLYMPIA PROCLAIMS INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ DAY!
OLYMPIA, WA. August 18, 2015: At a rally in Olympia’s Heritage Park on Monday, Mayor Pro Tem Nathaniel Jones announced that the City of Olympia has proclaimed the second Monday in October to be Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
The announcement was a welcome surprise to supporters of the holiday. “The future feels a little better today,” Lucas Saul, one of the organizers, said.
Mr. Jones began by quoting a letter to the Olympian by Fred LaMotte: “What really matters? We imagine ourselves divided by race, religion, party, class, and tribe. But these divisions are mental constructs, not biological facts. If we are to survive, we need to more deeply honor the elements we actually share in common: the air we breathe, the aquifer we drink, the soil that grows our food, the sunlight that graces us with energy.” Mr. Jones continued, “I’m here as a representative of the City of Olympia, and I’m here to read a proclamation from the city.” The proclamation acknowledges the contributions of Native Americans, the history of oppression and ongoing disparities between Native and Non-Native populations, and encourages local schools and businesses to honor the holiday, before proclaiming that “the second Monday in October shall be declared as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the City of Olympia.”
The proclamation can be viewed in full at https://olyindigenouspeoplesday.wordpress.com/. Olympia joins other cities that have declared the date formerly celebrated as Columbus Day to be Indigenous Peoples’ Day, including Minneapolis and Seattle.
About 150 supporters of Indigenous Peoples’ Day gathered in Heritage Park to rally in favor of the new holiday on Monday afternoon.
Council member Jim Peters of the Squaxin Nation opened the event, followed by a song from the Squaxin Island drum group. Falcon Sison (Nisqually) spoke about the importance of love before he and the Nisqually Canoe Family shared a song.
Other speakers included Anna Sablan.and her son Tahahawat Payne Sablanof the Quileutte Nation and Cleo Frank of the Nisqually Tribe. Matt Remle (Lakota), who was instrumental in Seattle’s adoption of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, also attended and spoke at the rally.
After the proclamation was announced, Marco Black, Sr. (Quinault) invited the audience to gather for a victory song. The mood was jubilant.
As the crowd dispersed and the sun set over Capitol Lake, members of the Squaxin, Nisqually, and Quinault nations continued playing traditional songs.
“The ancestors are happy,” Brian Frisina said. “This is in the spirit of Billy Frank, Jr.”