Amid Songs and Prayers, Boise Officials Proclaim Oct. 8 Indigenous Peoples' Day

Tai Simpson stood at the podium at the newly-renovated entrance of Boise City Hall Monday and spoke of injustices experienced by American indigenous peoples, including displacement, rape, genocide, theft, broken treaties and other abuses.

"We survived that," said Simpson, addressing an outside gathering of nearly 200 people. "And that's something to celebrate."

Simpson was the emcee for the first-annual Boise Indigenous Peoples' Day, which also included speeches from city officials and representatives of tribes from across Idaho, plus prayers and songs by Native American performers like Medicine Thunder.

First celebrated in Berkeley, California, in 1992, IPD has spread across the country as an alternative to Columbus Day, which critics said glossed over the destruction of native cultures. On Oct. 8, IPD came to Boise as a way to recognize the histories, cultures and contributions of the first inhabitants of the Treasure Valley.

"This proclamation is a step that will go forward to enhance the positive efforts to promote an understanding of the original inhabitants of this area," said Lionel Boyer, a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe.

Boise officials said IPD had been in the works at City Hall for some time. City Council Member TJ Thomson, in collaboration with Native American and non-Native stakeholders, began discussing IPD as early as 2015, and Lisa Sanchez, elected to the City Council in 2017, played an active role in turning that conversation into a proclamation. Most of the Boise City Council was present at the Monday morning ceremony; and before reading a selection from the proclamation, which Sanchez held before him, Mayor Dave Bieter offered his own thoughts on the event.

"We're honored to do this today," he told the crowd. "It's been a long time coming."