The People’s Plaza, formerly the Hennepin County Government Plaza, in downtown Minneapolis, was the site of the Indigenous People’s Day Cultural Ceremony on day four of Minneapolis’ answer to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Clyde Bellecourt, co-founder of the American Indian Movement, led the ceremony with traditional drum groups and dancers of North America and Meshikas of Mexico and Central and South America.
“Indigenous peoples of North and South America are here to reoccupy our sacred Mother Earth,” said Bellecourt. “We will join together as one on this day of national mourning of the genocide of 120 million indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere, as American and the world celebrates the pirate Columbus.”
The first rain in many days started as the dancers and drummers arrived. Bellecourt said he thanked the Creator for the water, but asked to hold off for a while.
The dancers and drummers wore elaborate, colorful clothing and performed a series of high energy dances and the traditional asking of blessings from the four corners of the earth, Mother Earth and the Creator above. The crowd was asked to face the same directions as the dancers during the ceremony. Incense burners created eerie clouds as the smoke mixed with the lightly falling rain.
Bellecourt directed the ceremony as an Anishinabe Chief. He discussed some of the historical issues, used tobacco in his sacred ceremony and asked for inclusion of all. “We know who the 98% are, It’s you, and we know we are part of that,” he said. He performed the traditional blessings of the corners, Mother Earth and the Creator. The lead dancer closed the ceremony with a reminder to observers that the feelings and benefits were for all people.