Duluth Celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ Day

"We just picked up the momentum and kept going. I think this is the biggest turnout we've ever had," Sandman says. 

DULUTH, Minn. — “It was incredible. It was amazing. And this family we have here is just beautiful to watch the mom and the dad intact and teaching their boys the traditional ways,” Duluth Indigenous Commission Chair, Babette Sandman says.

Indigenous community members came to Duluth city hall to help commemorate the day also known as Columbus Day.

“Seeing him dance as I said, it just reminded me what freedom our children have today to learn our traditional ways and to carry them on into the future,” Sandman says.

On a day meant to honor the native population leaders also talked about preserving their culture in schools, local artwork, and the sobriety movement in the community.

“We just picked up the momentum and kept going. I think this is the biggest turnout we’ve ever had,” Sandman says.

It’s momentum the indigenous community hopes to bring to the city council.

Council President Renee Van Nett plans to bring forth a resolution that acknowledges the harm and ongoing trauma experienced by indigenous communities after indigenous children nationwide were taken to and abused at boarding schools in the 1800s through the mid-1900s.

“There were different boarding and mission schools to take our children and place them there and then take them away from their families,” Duluth City Council President, Renee Van Nett says.

“So they lose their culture, their language, their family connection so they would assimilate into the dominant culture. The way they think about that is to make everyone the same.”

Allowing the community to provide support to people have often been kept in the dark.

“That’s just one issue of a lot of different things that happened to native folks. And so, that’s just one part of how we figure out what’s going on with our children. Why our people that you see are outside struggling and you would understand more why they are out there,” Van Nett says.

There will be another rally at city hall before Monday’s city council meeting organized by the American Indian Movement.

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