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Akron School District recognizing Indigenous Peoples' Day

Photo from sandus.org

A local school district is recognizing Monday as Indigenous Peoples' Day. WBFO's Focus on Education reporter Eileen Buckley says the Akron Central School District wants to teach students about the important historic role played by Native Americans in the community.

"We wanted to recognize the Indigenous Peoples' part in history," said Kevin Shanley, Superintendent of Akron Central School.

While Monday, October 12, traditionally marks the Columbus Day holiday, the Village of Akron and the Town of Newstead will hold the first celebration for Indigenous Peoples' day. 

In August the Akron School Board agreed on the importance and unanimously voted on a resolution. Shanley said he is hoping to bring the lesson directly to students. 

Credit Photo from Akron Central School District
Akron Schools Superintendent Kevin Shanley.

"And certainly to bring all the history to our students so that they have the whole picture of discovery American and how that all materialized," said Shanley.
The school district has a population of more than 1,400 students in Pre-K through 12th grade. Twelve percent are Native America living on the Tonawanda Seneca Indian Reservation.  

"We are very proud to education the students that are on the Tonawanda Seneca Reservation. Because we have that population, maybe we're a little more sensitive to that then other districts," noted Shanley.         

Back in March, Akron's lacrosse team refused to play against Lancaster before their Redskins team name was changed. Superintendent Shanley lauds his students for respecting diversity.

"It certainly helps to raise the awareness not only here in school, but I think in the village and town, as well," said Shanley.

The idea of Indigenous Peoples' Day was first proposed in 1977 by a delegation of Native nations to the U.N.

The Akron School District resolution said it will recognize that day for those who "have lived upon this land since time immemorial."