Holyoke community celebrating first Indigenous People’s Day | News


Western Mass News spoke with one local leader about the change.

HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) — Today is Columbus Day, officially recognized as a federal holiday. But some communities in the state have transitioned to celebrating Indigenous People’s Day.

Western Mass News spoke with one local leader about the change.

Holyoke is one of 20 communities in Massachusetts that has made the change to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day on what has traditionally been Columbus Day.

Monday marked the first year Holyoke is celebrating Indigenous People’s Day. The city held its official observance on Saturday, and Western Mass News was there.

Holyoke City Councilor Libby Hernandez is the leader behind getting this proclamation changed in her community.

“This was brought forward by our children. I mean Holyoke is 53 percent Latino. The majority is Puerto Rican, and we are from Taino descent. We are indigenous people, and so we continued and persevered, and we brought the resolution forward in June 2021, and it passed 10 to 3.,” Hernandez said.

She tells Western Mass News this change was in the works for almost four years thanks to community members.

Holyoke hosts first Indigenous People’s Day

Now Holyoke is one of five communities here in western Mass. making this change.

Hernandez said she hopes events like Saturday’s will help educate future generations about indigenous history.

“It was such a beautiful thing and emotional, and most importantly I think about our children and our generation where they can identify themselves and feel value in who they are,” Hernandez explained.

Hernandez said while this was a big step for her and the Latino community she said there is still room for more growth and she hopes next year Springfield and other western Mass. communities will also adopt Indigenous People’s Day.

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