Framingham celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day with traditional dance


FRAMINGHAM – Sustained drumming and a traditional dance on the lawn at McCarthy Elementary School ushered in Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday afternoon.

About a hundred people, including members of the Nipmuc Nation, gathered to participate in the ceremony.

Andre StrongBearHeart Gaines Jr. began with a Land Recognition – a formal statement that recognizes the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous peoples and their land.

“This land from which we all benefit is the homeland of my people, the Nipmuc people – the people of fresh water,” he said. “We have been stewards of this land for thousands of years … homelands and colonial expansion, underscored by a Eurocentric narrative that attempted to wipe out an entire people.”

Andre StrongBearHeart Gaines Jr., of the Nipmuc Nation, leads a foot dance at the event

A citizen of the Nipmuc people, Gaines serves as a cultural steward for his tribe and is a speaker, traditional dancer and activist for indigenous rights.

Gaines implored attendees to take several steps, including supporting Indigenous organizations and backing a bill that would eliminate racist mascots from public schools.

President Joe Biden issued the first presidential proclamation commemorating Indigenous Peoples Day on Friday.

“The contributions that Indigenous peoples have made throughout history – in public service, entrepreneurship, scholarship, the arts and countless other fields – are integral to our nation, our culture and our company, ”Biden wrote. “Today, we recognize the significant sacrifices made by Indigenous peoples to this country – and recognize their many continuing contributions to our nation.”

Miles Bishop, a Framingham High School student, speaks at the 'Declaration Against Hate' event at McCarthy Primary School in Framingham on October 11, 2021.

The day will be celebrated every year on October 11. Biden’s announcement did not end Columbus Day as a federal holiday.

In 2019, the Framingham School Committee rejected a proposal to replace Columbus Day on the school calendar with Indigenous Peoples Day. Instead, he chose to observe the two days as a combined vacation.

Previous coverage:Framingham School Board veto Columbus Day name change

Rabbi Danny Burkeman, Wayland Shir Tikva Temple, declared that “the blood of the indigenous peoples massacred on this land cries out to us”.

“For too long we have been silent… we are responsible for each other,” he said.

The participants formed a long, winding line and participated in a traditional dance, which Gaines said is meant to represent the fight against hatred. There were also opportunities for youth service after the event, including painting in Daniel’s table or the Framingham Resource Firm.

Framingham High School student Madisyn Bradeen-Curet speaks during the 'Declaration Against Hate' event at McCarthy Primary School in Framingham on October 11, 2021.

“It’s not just a beautiful ceremony that you can come and say you’ve been there,” said Lino Covarrubias, CEO of MetroWest Jewish Family Service.

Miles Bishop, 17, a senior at Framingham High School, said he remembered learning about “the brave Columbus and the heroic pilgrims and what it was for them to come here” as a student of the Potter Road Elementary School.

“We even dressed up as pilgrims and Native Americans to reenact the first Thanksgiving in the third year,” he said in remarks to the assembly. “Believe me, cultural appropriation still embarrasses me today. Education is education – we have to learn everything and then choose which path to take.”

Zane Razzaq writes on education. Contact her at 508-626-3919 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @zanerazz.


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