Indigenous Peoples Day (a how to guide) / by Joel Garcia

Indigenous Peoples Day (a how to guide)


It is amazing that we have more and more opportunities to celebrate Indigenous Peoples but let’s be cautious that in doing so we don’t erase the original peoples of the area where you plan to produce your event.

Indigenous Peoples most certainly includes natives south and north of the US borders but we believe these celebrations should center on the original peoples of the land your event will take place on.

We encourage you to reach out and build relations with them and ask them to join your organizing team.

Be sure to practice reciprocity meaning for everything they share with you, be prepared to contribute equally. 

Components To Include (Basics).

  • Land Acknowledgment (by the organizers)
    A formal recognition of the original stewards of the land and their connection to it.

  • Opening Prayer/Blessing
    If possible ask an Elder (preferably) or a member from the original peoples.

  • Music & Art
    Yes, contemporary Native artists exist everywhere, include them in the program.

  • Traditional Music & Art
    Ask how they would like to share their traditions. Do not feel offended if they chose not too.

  • Education
    Include space for intentional learning about the original peoples.

For organizers

  • Have you included time in your program for a Land Acknowledgement? If not, please review our Land Acknowledgment Guide at

  • Please consult with a member of the original peoples of your area to include a traditional opening ceremony and incorporate this into your program. It is customary to offer a gift in exchange.

  • There is a large diversity of Native artists and musicians, please do your research and or ask your networks for suggestions. In addition consider including them in your organizational team.

  • Some Indigenous communities have specific protocols regarding their traditional stories, music, and art. Please respect their decision if they choose not to share this at your event.

  • Please do not be passive when adding educational opportunities about the original peoples of your area. Do not place this component in a booth near the rear. Consult with them and incorporate into your on-stage program if possible.

  • Yes, this is a place to have political statements shared. Colonization is happening today and our role as settlers continues to impact the lives of all Indigenous Peoples.

  • Indigenous Peoples have a vast visual and symbolic library, consult them on the preferred imagery to use in your promotional materials. NO MORE DREAMCATCHERS.

  • Equally important, please set aside stipends for all the participants. If monetary compensation is not available, your team should prepare gifts in exchange for their participation. If possible, do both.

For participants (attendee, artist, etc)

  • Bring cash to support the artists and vendors.

  • Do not wear items such as headdresses and war bonnets.

  • Do not bring any alcoholic beverages.

  • Although it is great that you have a drum, please ask the organizers if it's appropriate to bring your own. This is out of respect to any drum group or drummers that might already be asked to sing songs.

This guide is a basic starting point meant to create a foundation for your event. It should not be considered as THE guide for this celebration. For more resources email: