PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The City of Philadelphia is celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day with art, music and dance. Those taking part are hopeful the day will spark dialogue about Indigenous history.

“I love it, I came the year before last and I wasn’t able to come last year because of corona but I couldn’t wait,” Tenia Taborn said.

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One group wants the city to create conversations about Indigenous history and resilience. The Fifth Annual Indigenous Peoples’ Day Philly is underway at Penn Treaty Park from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

IPD Philly is a non-profit, Indigenous-led organization that has held the event for the past few years.

Penn Treaty Park, also known as Shackamoxon, is the ancestral territory of the original inhabitants of Delaware, New Jersey, and Eastern Pennsylvania. Legend says this is where city founder William Penn signed a momentous peace agreement with the native tribes of the area.

“There’s no other place like this that has been preserved just because of the peace and friendship between the Quakers and the original people,” an IPD member said.


The event is a direct counter to Columbus Day, and executive director Mabel Negrete told CBS3 the city honoring Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a big step for the entire city.

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“It’s pretty significant because – not only is it including our community and diverse communities, but it is welcoming. Philadelphia as a general public that is interested in our history or multiple histories, and as well are interested in advocating for what we are trying to bring awareness [to],” she said.

Mayor Jim Kenney announced in June Philadelphia would celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day in place of Columbus Day. The same executive order also declared Juneteenth a holiday. Sunday’s traditional Columbus Day Parade still went on.

“I think it’s been Columbus Day for a long time and so I think it makes an important statement to change the name and start to acknowledge the alternate stories that haven’t been told,” resident Laura Deutch said.

The battle over what to call this second Monday in October causing controversy as Italian Americans celebrated Columbus Day on Sunday.

“For them, it’s like celebrating their heritage, the Italian heritage which is fantastic but not at the expense of our suffering,” Mabel Negrete said.

Negrete helped organize this event. She says there have been talks about Indigenous people meeting with Italian Americans, but so far nothing has happened.

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“I don’t think there should be another side of the issue, history has written itself and what Columbus has meant to America,” Lou Bartlett said.

The city is currently ensnarled in a fight over the Christopher Columbus statue at Marconi Plaza, with the statue remaining boxed up after a late Saturday night decision by Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court.

Jasmine Payoute