Alaska Life

Hundreds celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day in Anchorage

  • Author: Marc Lester
  • Updated: December 2, 2017
  • Published October 9, 2017
Alaska Native Heritage Center dancers are joined by audience members. Several hundred people filled a commons area at Alaska Pacific University’s Atwood Center at lunchtime on Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. (Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News)
Chief Lee Stephan gives welcoming remarks at the start of the event. Several hundred people filled a commons area at Alaska Pacific University’s Atwood Center at lunchtime on Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. (Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News)
Carol Hoelscher of Hooper Bay dances in her seat. Several hundred people filled a commons area at Alaska Pacific University’s Atwood Center at lunchtime on Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. (Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News)
Yaari Walker dances at the event. Several hundred people filled a commons area at Alaska Pacific University’s Atwood Center at lunchtime on Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. (Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News)
Jeff Kinneeveauk, chair of the board at Alaska Native Heritage Center, dances. Several hundred people filled a commons area at Alaska Pacific University’s Atwood Center at lunchtime on Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. (Marc Lester / Alaska Dispatch News)

Several hundred people filled a commons area at Alaska Pacific University's Atwood Center at lunchtime on Monday to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. Earlier this year, Gov. Bill Walker signed into law a House bill that formally established the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day.

The upbeat event at APU featured traditional dancers as well speeches from elders, activists, cultural leaders and others. Liz Medicine Crow, president of First Alaskans Institute, said the idea for an event to celebrate the day began just a few days ago. She and other organizers expected 60 to 70 people to show up, but the event drew a few hundred people. Medicine Crow said the spontaneous nature of the event made it fun.

"It didn't have to be a huge production. All it needed was a room full of Native people, and other people who love us and support us, to come and just celebrate the day," she said.

The event was hosted by APU, UAA's Native Student Council, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, CIRI Foundation, Alaska Native Heritage Center and First Alaskans Institute.