Indigenous Peoples' Day, Brooklyn Children's Museum
Perry Ground Photo: Courtesy Perry Ground

The move to observe America’s native populations first began over 40 years ago, in 1977, by participants at the United Nations International Conference on Discrimination against Indigenous Populations in the Americas.

And with each passing year, an increasing number of people are choosing Columbus Day and Thanksgiving to also honor Native-American culture, as its land and people were devastated by the very things we, as Americans, celebrate.

This Monday, October 12, the plight of natives in America will be further recognized, as Brooklyn Children’s Museum and Brooklyn Public Library celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Brooklyn Children’s Museum will be celebrating indigenous histories, cultures and heritages with storytelling, performance, games and art-making on the museum’s rooftop. 

Ty Defoe (Giizhig), Oneida and Ojibwe Nations, will be holding an interactive storytelling and hoop dance experience and Taino storyteller Bobby Gonzalez will be sharing traditional stories. Families will have the chance to learn Loteria, family-style bingo, learn about indigenous animals in Spanish and English and create a clay animal inspired by the National Museum of the American Indian’s collection of ceramics. You can purchase tickets for the day here.

Later in the day, Brooklyn Public Library is hosting an online Indigenous Peoples’ Day Poetry Celebration.

Award-winning authors Sherwin Bitsui, Joan Naviyuk Kane and Tommy Pico will be reading new poems at the event, which will begin with a welcoming by Co-founder and Co-director of the Lenape Center Hadrien Coumans.

Sherwin Bitsui (Diné) is originally from White Cone, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation. He is Diné of the Todich’ii’nii (Bitter Water Clan), born for the Tl’izilani (Many Goats Clan). He is the author of Shapeshift, Flood Song and Dissolve. 

Joan Naviyuk Kane is Inupiaq with family from King Island (Ugiuvak) and Mary’s Igloo, Alaska. She is the author of eight collections of poetry and prose, including Dark Traffic, which is forthcoming in the 2021 Pitt Poetry Series. She currently teaches poetry and creative nonfiction in the Department of English at Harvard University, is a lecturer in the Department of Studies in Race, Colonialism and Diaspora at Tufts University, and was founding faculty of the graduate creative writing program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. 

Tommy “Teebs” Pico is a poet, podcaster, and tv writer. He is the author of the books IRL, Nature Poem, Junkvand Feed. Originally from the Viejas Indian reservation of the Kumeyaay nation, he now splits his time between Los Angeles and Brooklyn. 

The event is part Brooklyn Public Library’s ongoing series examining the complicated history of land ownership in the United States. The reading will be followed by a short conversation and audience questions. Register here for the free Zoom event.

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