7 Ways to Celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Dallas
Show up and pay tribute to the region’s vibrant Indigenous communities.
The North Central Texas region has historically been a stopover point for numerous Native American tribes, including the Caddo, Cherokee, Comanche, Kiowa, and Wichita. They were known to set up camp while on the move to other regions, so while there are plenty of tribal nations nearby in Oklahoma and elsewhere in Texas—including the Tigua Tribe in El Paso, the Lipan Apache Tribe in McAllen, the Kikapoo Tribe in Maverick County, and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe north of Houston—there are currently no active tribes in the immediate area. But that hasn’t stopped the City of Dallas from officially recognizing Indigenous People’s Day on the second Monday of October back in 2019, honoring and celebrating the region’s indigenous population, their history, and their legacy. And not only that, but the occasion also kicks off Indigenous People’s Week in Fort Worth.
The rest of the state soon followed suit. On June 18, 2021, legislation introduced by Representative Todd Hunter of Corpus Christi and Representative Leo Pacheco of San Antonio was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott to commemorate Indigenous People’s Week, as well. So as we approach this upcoming tribute to First Nations, Native American, and Indigenous people in North Texas and beyond, we’ve gathered a list of ways to get involved via art, education, cultural institutions, and both philanthropic and commercial support.
Donate to an organization benefiting Indigenous communities
Several nonprofits in the United States offer services and support to Native Americans, and even though they’re not local per se, a contribution to the greater cause benefits everyone. Among the organizations doing incredible work on these fronts are The Native American Rights Fund, which advocates for people on a legal basis; The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, which works to end violence against American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian women; The American Indian College Fund, which provides financial support for Native American students, as well as tribal colleges and universities; and the Native American Heritage Association, which fights hunger and food insecurity in Indigenous communities.
This Saturday, October 9, the State of Texas celebrates the first-ever official Indigenous People’s Day at the State Capitol building on the south steps. A drumming group from the Lipan Apache Tribe will perform, as well as Kevin Locke, a celebrated hoop dancer. Additional performers and speakers from the Native American communities of Texas will also take part.
Oklahoma’s Choctaw Nation is home to way more than the Choctaw Casinos that regularly draw North Texas gamblers over the border. The Choctaw Cultural Center made its debut this summer with several fascinating exhibits. The Living Village, in particular, presents an immersive experience that includes Choctaw dwellings, examples of mound-building, dance demonstrations, and the occasional stickball game via self-guided daily tours.
Thousands of Native American seniors live in poverty across the nation. One way to help make their lives a little better is through this organization, which provides vouchers for food and/or firewood—key components for weathering the winter months. For as little as $25 you can make a difference, while $250 a year provides one Elder with twice-yearly food deliveries. Yarn bundles can also be gifted for $50 each, allowing folks to weave rugs to sell for extra income. (Consider purchasing artisan crafts directly from an Elder, while you're at it.)
Head to Fort Worth to roam the grounds of more than a dozen important Comanche and Native American sites, with several located in Sundance Square as well as within the historic Fort Worth Stockyards District. Stroll through the area and read about key events in history as written on Heritage Trail Markers, and immerse yourself in artworks depicting and painted by Native Americans at the Sid Richardson Museum. The Stockyards Museum boasts several Comanche artifacts, and you can also spend some time connecting with nature on the shores of the Trinity River at Quanah Parker Park, named after a Comanche Nation war leader significant to the region.
Put on your thinking caps and attend this free lecture on Monday, November 1, which features a trio of panelists: Chebon Kernell (Seminole), Jodi Voice Yellowfish (Muscogee/Creek, Oglala Lakota, and Cherokee), and Annette Anderson (Chickasaw and Cherokee). The official topic is “A Frank Discussion about American Indian Boarding Schools, Christianity, and Their Legacies,” but expect the discussion to cover a lot more.
The Crazy Crow Trading Post in Pottsboro sells Native American craft supplies, clothing, and gear in Pottsboro. Co-owned by Comanche tribe member Ginger Reddick and her husband, Rex, the shop has been a community staple since 1970. Stop by to stock up on Plains-style German silverwork, turquoise and silver pieces, beadwork and ribbonwork, and other artisan crafts and see what they’re up to courtesy of their active events calendar.