Here's where to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day in the Twin Cities

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'Smart Wars,' 2016 Image courtesy of

Indigenous Peoples Day is all about reclaiming.

Taking place on the federal holiday honoring the colonialist Christopher Columbus, IPD has been officially recognized in Minneapolis since 2014, and in St. Paul since 2015. It flips the script on Columbus Day’s “discovery” narrative, honoring instead the Indigenous cultures that were here long before Europeans arrived, and continue to exist despite popular culture’s efforts to hide this fact.

Rory Wakemup, arts director of All My Relations Gallery, is organizing youth from the neighborhood surrounding the gallery and from the Lower Sioux Reservation for an interactive performance.

For last year's event, titled Smart Wars, young people mashed up Star Wars characters with Native American traditions and battled stereotypical Native American sports mascots. This year, they are taking things a little broader, with kids and teens mashing up pop culture in general with Native American imagery.

“This year we expanded to alter egos in general, ripped from pop culture,” Wakemup says. “Kind of the way pop culture rips from our culture.… We empower ourselves and educate ourselves through this funktavism.”

Wakemup’s mother, Mary Erler Peters, who lives in Lower Sioux, has been working with Twin Cities artist Liseli Polivka with the youth in Lower Sioux to make their costumes. Wakemup and several other performers play the mascots.

During the show, “the villains and heroes stop fighting each other and break off to battle the offensive mascots,” Wakemup says.

There will be plenty of ways to celebrate IPD around the Twin Cities, as All My Relations Gallery  and Two Rivers Gallery have partnered with the Ordway, Mia, and the Minnesota Historical Society to make an amazing day of it.

The ceremonies started this morning at Thomas Beach at Bde Maka Ska. At 10 a.m. there's the Indigenous Peoples Parade, beginning at the American Indian Magnet Pre-K in St. Paul and ending at Indian Mounds Park at 11 a.m. It will conclude with student speakers, singing, and dancing, and ends at 1:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, a Minneapolis parade begins also at 10 a.m. at Cedar Field Park near Little Earth.

At noon, the Minneapolis American Indian Center hosts a community feast at Gatherings Cafe, followed by a festival starting at 1 p.m. There will be a 10-minute play by New Native Theatre at 2 p.m., a hoop dance by Lumhe Sampson, an arts market featuring works from Native artists, and cultural objects selected from the Minnesota History Center and Two Rivers Gallery.

You can also bring a T-shirt to have printed by the Native American Community Development Institute, and receive $5 tickets from the Ordway. There will also be screen printing of water protector art from the Standing Rock resistance courtesy of Rolling Resistance, and information about the current fight against the Line 3 pipeline.

Following the festival, the day wraps up with a dance and rally from 4 to 7 p.m. Head over to the Minneapolis American Indian Center for speakers from the Stop Line 3 effort and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women campaigns.

You can find more details on today's festivities on the event's Facebook page.


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