Gathering outside City Hall marks Indigenous Peoples Day

<p><p>In celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day, more than 80 people gathered outside Spokane City Hall on Monday night.</p></p><p><p>“When Native people come together and grieve it’s a whole process, and that in itself provides healing in our songs and prayers. We come out of everything stronger since we do it together,” said Spokane Public Schools Board member Jenny Slagle. </p></p><p><p>A member of the Yakama Nation, Slagle is part of the Native American Alliance for Policy &amp; Action, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of Indigenous and Native Americans. She said the holiday is a means of celebration and call to action for more rights and resources in the Indigenous communities.</p></p><p><p>Mothers took pictures of their daughters in ribbon skirts. Young girls hopped around a projection image of a statement that read “103 MISSING INDIGENOUS PEOPLE FROM WA STATE .”</p></p><p><p>Outside of Spokane City Hall, friends and family drew chalk portraits of elders in traditional wear. Artist Rick Bocook drew a portrait of his late friend, an Indigenous woman named Darlene McCarty. McCarty gained international popularity after being featured on the Spokane-based TV series “Z-Nation.”</p></p><p><p>An organization passed out QR codes to a website about the case of Maddesyn George, a local Indigenous woman awaiting sentencing on a charge of second-degree manslaughter. She claims self -defense when she killed Kristopher Graber, who allegedly raped her and intended to cause her more harm.</p></p><p><p>Members from other tribes also attended the event. Tanisha Rattler, a Northern Arapaho tribe member, opened up the ceremony with a song to bless the event. She began with an encouraging reminder for everyone to know “we are all brothers and sisters of the two-legged nation.”</p></p><p><p>“Pray for our brothers and sisters that aren’t able to here, because of our struggles as Indians and human beings. … We represent thousands and thousands of ancestors who’ve been here since the beginning of time and we’re still here somehow.” Rattler said.</p></p><p><p>In addition to Rattler, father-son duo Pat Sr. and Jared Goudy of the Palouse Yakama Tribe performed.</p></p><p><p>“God brought us together to unify, to combat all the social ills that plague the people across the country regardless of what land you represent, what ethnicity you represent,” Pat said. “Today we’re here as one spirit.”</p></p><p><p>After the performances, Slagle then presented the Native American Alliance for Policy &amp; Action’s speech to Spokane City Hall. She presented topics such as the renaming of George Wright Drive to Whistalks Way, Spokane’s sharp increase in the Indigenous population, and lower life expectancies for Native Americans.</p></p><p><p>She said 28% of children in the state Department of Children, Youth and Families child welfare system are Native American “because of the lack of appropriate behavioral programs.”</p></p><p><p>“Our call to action to Spokane city tonight is to come along beside us, include us in not only funding but programing and recognizing that we are their constituents just like any other group of people in the Spokane area,” Slagle said.</p></p><p><p> She listed health -specific issues that widen the gap, unaffordable housing, and how the Native community has been left out of “COVID CARES Act funding.”</p></p><p><p>After the address, everyone was welcomed to join a round dance to conclude the event.</p></p><p><p>Slagle said more action is needed from community leaders.</p></p><p><p>“We need them in partnership but we know what we need on our own, too,” Slagle said. “Don’t do it for us, do it with us’ definitely rings true.”</p></p>