Third Annual Indigenous Peoples Day festival coming to Albemarle Field

Newton will have its third annual Indigenous Peoples Dasy Ceremonial Celebration on Oct. 9 at Albemarle Field.

The festival will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and attendance is free and open to the public. There will be performances, guest speakers and cultural presentations as well as more than 40 vendors from Indigenous-owned businesses.

“This celebration is a tribute to the resilience and vibrancy of Indigenous communities,” Christa Rose, Indigenous Peoples Day Newton communications manager, said in announcing this year’s event. “It’s an opportunity to showcase not just the incredible artistic talents of local Indigenous folks, but also the Indigenous-owned businesses and non-profit organizations that enrich our community.”

Newton’s City Council voted in November 2020 to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day, in honor of Native American peoples and cultures. The next year, the Indigenous Peoples Day Newton held its first celebration.

The event will have accommodations for those with disabilities, including wheelchair access, ALS interpreters and a sensory-friendly area.

Native Americans have occupied what is now New England for thousands of years. Much of eastern Massachusetts and the land Newton stands on was inhabited by Wampanoag and Massachusett tribes.

European settlers of the 17th century lived alongside Native Americans and worked out land sales and treaties with them, but the Europeans also brought illnesses that the natives had no immunity to, like smallpox and cattle-borne viruses, and pandemics ravaged indigenous communities. Then more settlers arrived from Europe and eventually displaced native families and tribes to reservations.

In Newton, Pastor John Eliot made it his life’s work to convert Native Americans to Christianity and white European culture. In 1646, a tribal chief’s son, named Waban, became the first Native American to convert to Christianity. Waban then founded the village of Nonantum and helped convert other natives to Christianity. The Boston College Law Library has an in-depth look at that and other aspects of Newton Native American history on its blog.

In recent years, communities across the country have been adding Indigenous Peoples Day to their calendars, many in place of Columbus Day.

For more information on Newton’s festival, visit the Indigenous Peoples Day Newton website.