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Local leader reflects on meaning of Indigenous Peoples' Day for her group

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY
Posted at 9:06 PM, Oct 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-11 13:39:05-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — In recent years more recognition has come to the indigenous people of the United States. That includes proclamations by President Joe Biden the last two years to name the second Monday in October, Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

“Acknowledging first nations or first people is super important especially because they kind of got forgotten."

Love Sanchez co-founded Indigenous Peoples of the Coastal Bend (IPOCB). She said the group received their first recognition by the City of Corpus Christi in 2018, decreeing every second Monday in October Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

“There’s a sense of they acknowledged the culture, but the part of not listening to us when it comes to the culture and the land that is a missing component in the equation,” Sanchez said.

A proclamation is a start, but it's not enough to make up for what's been lost. Sanchez understands people are trying though.

Sanchez said it would be helpful if Columbus Day, which falls on the same day, was replaced with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

“There’s even a meme circulating like if you think Jeffrey Dahmer, that was bad, you need to see what Christopher Columbus did,” she said.

When IPOCB was founded about five years ago, recognition was one of their goals. But Sanchez said they also inherited some goals. Because their ancestors were stewards of the land, it’s also their duty to protect this land.

She feels her group may have gotten a bad rap when they’ve only been seen for their environmental activism.

"When we do have people looking and they do see the culture They love it. It's beautiful and the drums, you're drawn to that," Sanchez said. "But then when you start to get a little controversial when we want to exert our rights or exert, hey we want to protect this land we don't want to exploit it, then it's like oh my God, that's too much. No, that is a part of us."

The group is known for providing more than just activism. Some have volunteered to educate through language and arts. There's education on their culture through dance. But one goal they've always had is to provide a safe space for indigenous people. By doing that, Sanchez realized she's given people a voice.

“I’m really honored to have been a part of that to see a very quiet person now like talking. And being like, no that’s not right. And just, it’s amazing,” she said.

Looking forward to the next five to 10 years for indigenous people, Sanchez is excited for the next generation. She said outside of family members, teens as young as 18 have participated in IPOCB.

"Oh wow, (you all) are so smart," Sanchez said speaking of the younger generation. "Like, (you all) have some crazy ideas, but they're doable. It's like out of the box and just this whole new generation of thinking. Technology is so different."

To get in touch with IPOCB you can connect with them on their Facebook page.

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