Indigenous culture, often discussed in the context of history, is taking center stage in Phoenix, Arizona, with the upcoming Indigenous People’s Day PHX Fest. This festival is not just a reflection on the past but a vibrant celebration of the Indigenous people living in the Valley today.
A Living Celebration of Indigenous Histories
Autumn Rose Williams, the public relations and media coordinator for Indigenous People’s Day PHX Fest, believes that it’s crucial to bring Indigenous histories to the forefront. For her, Indigenous People’s Day is about celebrating not only the past but also the present. “It is important to tell our histories, to tell our stories, and make sure we as Indigenous people are seen, heard, understood, and respected,” Williams said.
The festival, with the theme “Indigenize the Valley,” returns for its second year on October 9th, offering a diverse range of activities and experiences for attendees.
From the Ground Up: The Heartwarming Growth of the Festival
Candace Hamana, one of the co-owners of Cahokia, an Indigenous-led, Indigenous women-owned art and entrepreneur space, expresses her joy at seeing the festival’s remarkable growth. Cahokia PHX hosted the first festival last October, and this year, it has gained support from the Gila River Indian Community and Becker Boards as sponsors.
The growth of the festival signifies the growing community support and collaboration. It’s a testament to how Indigenous culture is not only celebrated but also embraced by the wider community.
A Multitude of Festivities
The festival promises a plethora of activities to engage and educate attendees. Some of the highlights include:
1. Skateboard Competition: Watch talented skateboarders showcase their skills in a competition that adds an element of excitement to the festival.
2. Pop-Up Market: Explore a market featuring over 120 Indigenous artisans and food vendors. It’s a great opportunity to support local Indigenous businesses and savor delicious traditional foods.
3. Musical Performances: Enjoy live music performances that celebrate Indigenous culture and artistry.
4. Art and Mural Installations: Immerse yourself in the world of Indigenous art through murals and art installations.
5. Heard Museum Exhibit: Explore an exhibit at the Heard Museum that sheds light on Indigenous culture and history.
6. Sacred Cycle of Life Bike Tour: Join the inaugural Sacred Cycle of Life Bike Tour, a unique experience that connects attendees with nature and community. Pre-registration is required for this event.
Recognizing Indigenous People’s Day as a City Holiday
In a significant milestone, Phoenix declared Indigenous People’s Day a paid city holiday in April 2023. City offices will be closed, and city services will follow a pattern similar to Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This recognition by Mayor Kate Gallego is a positive step forward in acknowledging and celebrating Indigenous communities’ contributions to the region’s history.
However, some see this as an “overdue” step and hope for further recognition, such as making it a state holiday.