Navajo Nation celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ Day

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M – Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a big holiday on the Navajo Nation, the biggest reservation in the entire country.

"We are just celebrating being indigenous today but every day is Indigenous Peoples’ Day for Native Americans and Indigenous people all over the world, so it’s special to have a day recognized for Native people in this country," said Jonathan Nez, Navajo Nation president.

Nez and the Navajo Nation’s First Lady Phefelia Nez were in Albuquerque Monday, joining in on Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrations.

"Just seeing different performances from different nations – sometimes we get so in a box within our own tribal nations, sometimes it’s good to allow our children to see that there’s different practices, different ceremonies, different dances and I’m glad I got to see some of that this morning,” Phefelia said.

The Navajo Nation has long been opposed to celebrating Columbus Day, and Nation leaders issued a proclamation Monday officially recognizing Oct. 11 as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

"Recognizing the important contributions of the Diné people, of the Navajo people, to the freedoms of this country, of course, pushing democracy all over the world as well and we just wanted to say thank you to our warriors that have sacrificed so much today and every day for us,” Nez said.

Nation leaders said while several states, cities and towns recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day, they hope that list continues to grow.