Plattsburgh celebrates its 1st Indigenous Peoples Day

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 5:52 PM EDT
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - For the first time, Plattsburgh honored Indigenous Peoples Day. Celebrations were held at the Champlain Monument.

Mayor Chris Rosenquest made a proclamation last week changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day in Plattsburgh.

“My family has been here since before colonization... for some reason, people don’t know that,” said Emily Stacey, a Mohawk who lives in Plattsburgh.

A dedication on Plattsburgh’s first Indigenous Peoples Day of a plaque that lists the plants the Mohawk tribe uses to heal.

“We honor the original caretakers of this and surrounding lands and offer respect to the Haudenosaunee who are still here,” said Rosenquest, D-Plattsburgh.

“Finally, it feels like we are accepted, on some level,” Stacey said.

Stacey says she has been discriminated against for most of her life because of her culture.

“I can’t tell you how difficult it has been, here in Plattsburgh, to get some kind of acceptance,” she said. “This feels pretty close.”

Whether it’s small changes like the plaques that reference her culture and history or big ones, like changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day, Stacey says the changes matter.

“That is the hope, that the Haudenosaunee people have is the next seven generations. Hoping that the next generation is not going to have to suffer the way the generation before did,” Stacey said.

That next generation, represented at Monday’s dedication, is hoping the change will honor Indigenous culture and remind people of the history behind the holiday.

“We need to keep some value of our heritage, otherwise it will be just in history books and no longer relevant,” said Valerie Stacey-Patrie, a Mohawk who lives in Plattsburgh.

Over the last several years, plaques and sculptures have gone up around the Lake City as educational stops for people to learn more about the tribes that found this land.

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