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Indigenous Peoples Weekend kicks off in the City of Niagara Falls

Flag Raising
Thomas O'Neil-White
City of Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino raises the flag of the Iroquois Confederacy outside of City Hall

The raising of the Six Nations flag Thursday outside of City Hall in the City of Niagara Falls signified the beginning of Indigenous Peoples Weekend. Niagara Falls recently passed a resolution announcing the period of Oct. 7-11 as Indigenous Peoples Weekend, with the last day coming on Indigenous Peoples Day.

Randy Green- Iroquois Confederacy
Thomas O'Neil-White
Randy Green of the Iroquois Confederacy discusses Indigenous Peoples Weekend.

Aside from the celebrations planned for the weekend, the continuing coverage of the bodies being found on former residential school lands in Canada and the United States is not lost Iroquois Federation Educator Randy Green who said the forced erasure of indigenous culture is why this upcoming weekend is so important.

“The boarding schools would take in children by force to teach them Christianity to teach them to be a hard working, taxpaying citizen and would beat them for using their own language from beat them from practicing their own ways,” he said.

For Seneca Nation member Jocelyn Jones the horrors of what her ancestors went through at the residential schools is reason to re-immerse younger generations in the Seneca language which she said holds a system of ethics and is key to a certain way of thinking.

Jocelyn Jones- Seneca Nation
Thomas O'Neil-White
Jocelyn Jones of the Seneca Nation talks about Indigenous Peoples Weekend and the re-immersion of language and customs for Indigenous youth.

“You immerse somebody into American culture, English language,” she said. “It can also be reversed in that way as well. So that is the huge movement around the globe in language revitalization. And so the next step is that we found our own schools and we reeducate our children from the perspective of our own people in our own ancestors.”

Jones says the language is being taught already in the school districts of Allegany and Cattaraugus Counties.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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