On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, about 200 area tribal members marched through the Logan Neighborhood to make their voices heard and their presence known.
“We’re still here,” said Jenny Slagle, a member of the Yakama Nation and the Spokane School Board, who spoke at the gathering Monday afternoon. “We are still battling a lot of historical trauma and a lot of history behind that, but we’re also moving forward.”
Slagle grew up on the Yakama Indian Reservation experiencing poverty and unstable housing. While acknowledging that reality, Slagle wants to move away from “deficit storytelling” by continuing to build Native culture and presence.
Andrea Gallardo, a descendant of both the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene tribes, began the event with a land acknowledgment to recognize the traditional homeland of the Spokane tribe, on which they stood. “Today we give thanks to the legacy of the original people and their descendants,” she said. “And we pledge to honor the people and the land.”
The march began and ended at Mission Park, where Native speakers, dancers and musicians celebrated.
Some marched wearing traditional clothing or carrying banners to raise awareness of current issues such as missing and murdered Indigenous women, and reckoning with the history of Indian boarding schools.
“I think everybody has their own reasons and what pulls on their hearts to march,” Gallardo said as she beat a drum and burned sage. “It’s not just one thing, I think it’s a lot of things.”
Karen Hanigan wore a T-shirt of her tribe, the Chinook Indian Nation. She is an activist fighting for the tribe – which traditionally resided along the lower Columbia River – to be federally recognized. “We are just completely overlooked,” she said.
“We never went away,” CarylDene Swan, a Coeur d’Alene Tribe council member, said as she marched. “We’re always going to be here. It just shows that we’re standing together with solidarity to support our tribes, our ancestors, our way of life.”
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