Austin's first Indigenous Peoples' Day

- It was not Columbus Day here in Austin. For the first time, the city honored the holiday as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Those who consider themselves as "indigenous" said with this new title comes healing and a chance for education.

Daniel Llanes and Susana Almanza display traditions passed down to them from their ancestors.

"The rattles and the flutes dispel all negativity in whatever form it is,” said Llanes.

"We bless one another because in here our thoughts and energies go into the universe,” said Almanza.

They consider themselves to be indigenous coming from those who occupied the land well before Christopher Columbus is said to have discovered it.

"We belong to the Chichtli Clan of Concheros which is one of 22 clans of Mexico City which is Tenochtitlan,” said Llanes.

Their people suffered great hatred and destruction. Even in modern times they feel political and economic oppression.

Monday there was healing as the city has replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

"It's time to heal ourselves and heal the earth. We can't heal ourselves unless we're honest about what happened. The genocide that Christopher Columbus brought to this continent,” said Almanza.

"Growing up nobody thought about it because there was no understanding or the real history of the United States,” said Llanes. "Now there's a great awareness and consciousness."

They also hope the day will encourage more people to learn about their culture.

"Planting the food, feeding yourself, raising your children, being respectable, honoring the earth, taking care of the earth,” said Almanza.

Austin joins other cities like Las Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Denver to drop Columbus Day.

For Llanes and Almanza the ultimate change will occur when Indigenous Peoples’ Day is recognized nationwide.

"We recognize that it's going to take time, but we're moving on that path and that's the most important thing is that we're on the path to healing. We're on that path to justice,” said Almanza.

Monday night Llanes and Almanza will lead Austin’s first Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebration at Plaza Mariposa located at 4926 East Cesar Chavez.

The public is encouraged to begin to gather at 6 p.m. for food, music, poetry, performances and the first reading of the resolution to change the name of the day.

The Native American and Indigenous Studies Center at UT is hosting events all week long.

For more information on Indigenous Peoples Week click here:  https://liberalarts.utexas.edu.

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