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FARMINGTON – San Juan College will commemorate its first Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday, a year after students and staff members called for recognition of the event.

Members of the Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration Committee have been organizing an event that mixes education and awareness since the College Council approved and implemented a resolution by the Associated Students of San Juan College.

The resolution, approved by both entities in March, established a campus-wide recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday of October.

The federal government recognizes that day as Columbus Day, but San Juan College does not list the federal holiday on its academic calendar, and the campus remains open.

In recent years, the move to establish Indigenous Peoples Day has gained support in communities across the country.

Phoenix became the latest city to enact the day when the City Council there voted Wednesday to establish the day as an annual city event.

Tsáá Henderson serves as student secretary on the college's celebration committee, and Kim Lowe is the committee chairwoman. Both have been involved with the initiative since it started last October.

Henderson said the committee designed the event to celebrate diversity, as well as indigenous cultures.

"I'm very proud this is happening," he said.

Lowe said committee members wanted the event to welcome indigenous groups and create an event through which they could educate students and the public.

"We wanted to show what indigenous looks like," Lowe said.

Among the student clubs and student support services helping the event are ENLACE/Herencia Latina, the All Nations United Club, the National Honor Society of Leadership and Success, and the Native American Center.

"I think it's important to have people listen instead of seeing some form of entertainment," ENLACE/Herencia Latina Director Osvaldo Avila said.

Each presentation is open to the public and will take place at the college campus in Farmington.

The day will start at 8 a.m. with a blessing and prayer in the Learning Commons Plaza.

There will be a pair of group discussions at 8:30 a.m. and at 10 a.m. in the Central Classroom Complex in Room 1622. The 8:30 a.m. discussion will deal with the purpose of Indigenous Peoples Day and the reasons it is being recognized. The discussion at 10 a.m. will center on Aztec tradition, cultural identity and preservation.

At noon, there will be a performance by hip-hop artists Ill Methods and Angry Monk in the Student Activities Lounge, and a frybread demonstration outside the Native American Center.

Indigenous dancing by Danza Quetzalkuetlachtil and The Matachines will start at 1 p.m. in the Student Activities Lounge.

The All Nations Leadership Association will have a stew sale from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Native American Center.

The event closes with a prayer at 2:30 p.m. in the Learning Commons Plaza.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.

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