Indigenous Peoples’ Day Celebration Honors Womxn, Remembers Those Missing and Murdered

by Carolyn Bick

Despite its large, open space, Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center was almost overflowing Monday evening, many generations of Indigenous people packing the center for the fifth annual Indigenous People’s Day celebration.

The night’s theme was Honoring Native Womxn. The event kicked off with an honor ceremony for Salish Kootenai College President and activist Luana Ross and Jeri Moomaw, executive director of social justice organization Innovations Human Trafficking Collaborative. Most of the evening was spent in joy and celebration, and included a group circle dance led by Indigenous Sisters Resistance, as well as Taino dancing, an Aztec (Nahua-Mexika) fire ritual performed by family dance group Tloke-Nahuake Traditional Aztec Fire Dancers, and dance and song led by Haida Heritage.

The evening also remembered the missing. Innovations Human Trafficking Collaborative’s Indigenous Outreach Coordinator Roxanne White briefly talked about Alyssa McLemore, who will have been missing for 10 years this coming April.

“Her family has been searching for her, and when we met them in January, they felt so alone,” White said. “This is why we wear red. This is why we do this work. … It’s about these families, and it’s for those ones who are not here. They are not here tonight. For those ones who don’t have a voice anymore. Their voice was stolen. They were taken.”

Native women go missing at disproportionate rates. According to the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control, the fifth leading cause of death for Native women aged 20 to 24 is homicide; among baby girls, ages 1 to 4, homicide the second leading cause of death. Native women are also two-and-a-half times more likely than other women to be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.

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Haida Heritage group members perform, during the fifth annual celebration of Indigenous People’s Day at Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center in Seattle, Washington, on Oct. 8, 2018. (Photo: Carolyn Bick}
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Ixtli Salinas-White Hawk performs the only ceremony the Aztec culture is allowed to share with those outside the culture, during the fifth annual celebration of Indigenous People’s Day at Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center in Seattle, Washington, on Oct. 8, 2018. She belongs to Tloke Nahuake-tlayolohtli, a traditional Aztec Dance family group. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)
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A young girl dances to the music of Indigenous Sisters Resistance, during the fifth annual celebration of Indigenous People’s Day at Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center in Seattle, Washington, on Oct. 8, 2018. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)
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Wearing a shirt commemorating her missing niece, Tina McLemore bows her head, as people sing a Haida gambling song to raise awareness about missing Indigenous women, during the fifth annual celebration of Indigenous People’s Day at Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center in Seattle, Washington, on Oct. 8, 2018. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)
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A young woman with the Taino dancers performs, during the fifth annual celebration of Indigenous People’s Day at Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center in Seattle, Washington, on Oct. 8, 2018. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)
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People sing, during the fifth annual celebration of Indigenous People’s Day at Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center in Seattle, Washington, on Oct. 8, 2018. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)
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Haida Heritage group members perform a gambling song, to raise money to fund awareness around missing Indigenous women, during the fifth annual celebration of Indigenous People’s Day at Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center in Seattle, Washington, on Oct. 8, 2018. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)
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Josh Simpson carries Helushka Vielle, during the fifth annual celebration of Indigenous People’s Day at Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center in Seattle, Washington, on Oct. 8, 2018. Vielle’s jacket reads, “Your freedom is dependent on genocide and settler violence.” (Photo: Carolyn Bick)
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Young Indigenous performers walk down the stairs, during the fifth annual celebration of Indigenous People’s Day at Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center in Seattle, Washington, on Oct. 8, 2018. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)

Featured Photo: Juan Salinas performs the only ceremony the Aztec culture is allowed to share with those outside the culture, during the fifth annual celebration of Indigenous People’s Day at Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center in Seattle, Washington, on Oct. 8, 2018. He belongs to Tloke Nahuake- tlayolohtli, a traditional Aztec Dance family group. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)

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