Indigenous Peoples’ Day 2023 Indigenizes the Valley
October 20, 2023
Gila River Indian News
The Indigenous-led, Indigenous-owned art and entrepreneur space Cahokia Socialtech + Artspace hosted the second annual Indigenous Peoples’ Day Festival on Oct. 9. This year’s event took place at the Margaret T. Hance Park in Phoenix for a day of celebrations dedicated to America’s Indigenous people and Arizona tribes. The festival included cultural presentations, musical performances, a skateboarding competition, vendors as well as informational booths including one set up by the Gila River Indian Community, who were also a sponsor. Local leaders including Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego attended in addition tovarious tribal leaders.
Gila River Royalty was also on hand with 2023-24 Miss Gila River Mavis Thomas and 2023-24 Jr. Miss Gila River Eleanor Lynch participating in the festivities.
“We wanted to organize a festival that would celebrate the unique cultures, identities, and talents of all of our amazing Indigenous people here,” said Mike Webb, Community Cultivator for Cahokia. Webb explained that Cahokia is a platform to amplify Indigenous voices and perspectives, especially through means of entrepreneurship for small-business owners.
This year’s theme was to “Indigenize the Valley” with a retro throwback theme, in attempts to reconnect individuals with their Community elders and increase awareness to other metropolitan areas of Indigenous contributions and ingenuity prior to Arizona’s statehood.
Festival-goers were treated to many activities throughout the day featuring Indigenous Film Screenings presented by Cahokia PHX and Indie Film Fest, the Inaugural Sacred Cycle of Life Bike tour hosted by RVSO + Heavy Pedal Phoenix. Downtown Showdown Skateboard Competition hosted by Seven Layer Army Skateboards. An Indigenous pop-up market featuring over 120 Indigenous artisans and food vendors. A “Rez Fest” music festival with two curated stages showcasing local bands, musicians, and cultural performances. There was also a Community Zone featuring valley partners like the Phoenix Suns and more. A presentation called Growing for the Future (Plants, Indigenous Foods) and musical guests took place near the Heard Museum that day as well.