Indigenous Peoples Day honors the cultures and histories of the original inhabitants of the US. Here’s how to celebrate in Pennsylvania.
According to the most recent census data, tens of thousands of Indigenous people live in Pennsylvania. Many of them are descendants of the region’s original inhabitants, the Lenape (also known as Delaware) tribe and the Susquehannock tribe. Others may be descendants of the Nanticoke and the Shawnee tribes who migrated to Pennsylvania from other regions after the Europeans arrived.
Pennsylvania is one of the few states that does not have a federally recognized Native American tribe or any tribal reservations. The state also does not officially recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a day with roots that go back to 1977 at a United Nations international conference on discrimination. South Dakota was the first state to officially recognize the day in 1989. President Joe Biden issued a proclamation commemorating the day, declaring Oct. 11, 2021, Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
While the day is not a state holiday, many events throughout Pennsylvania honor and celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Here are a few of them to check out.
Indigenous Peoples Day at Shackamaxon (Penn Treaty Park)
Hosted by Indigenous Peoples’ Day Philly, an Indigenous-led non-profit, this annual event provides space for different Indigenous communities in the city to shed light on the history and strength of their people. The family-friendly event that’s open to anyone is an opportunity for Indigenous people to celebrate and share their cultures, as well as bring attention to the needs of their communities. There will be vendors, presenters, dancers, and artists showcasing and selling their work. Bring your own blankets and chairs to sit on.
Date: Monday, Oct. 9, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m
Admission: Pay as you wish at the door, with a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and children 12+
Location: 1301 N. Beach St., Philadelphia
Indigenous Peoples Weekend at The Museum of the American Revolution
Explore Native American history, culture, and their role in the American Revolution at Indigenous Peoples Weekend. Activities include traditional Lenape dancers, crafts, talks, and gallery exhibits. Also, living history interpreters will share stories about their culture, costuming, and traditions and engage guests in conversation about the past, present, and future of their people.
Date: Saturday, Oct. 7 to Monday, Oct. 9, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Admission: Included in regular admission to the museum; advanced ticketing is recommended.
Location: 101 S. 3rd St., Philadelphia
Native American Gathering at Community College of Beaver County
The two-day Native American Gathering at CCBC offers opportunities to learn about the history of Indigenous people in Beaver County and attend the Native American Gathering at the Dome at the college. Performances include traditional dances and drums throughout the day. Attendees are welcome to bring drums.
Date: Saturday, Oct. 14, from 10 a.m-10 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 15, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Admission: $5 for adults, $4 for seniors 62+ and veterans; $3 for ages 6-12
Location: The Dome at CCBC, 1 Campus Dr., Monaca, Beaver County
Chester County American Indian Cultural Festival
Two days of Native American drumming, intertribal dancing, singing, children’s activities, food, and vendors are open to the public at the Chester County American Indian Cultural Festival. In addition to the educational entertainment, attendees can bid in a silent auction and browse historical and cultural information on Indigenous people. Some information is available to take home.
Date: Saturday, Oct. 21, and Sunday, Oct. 22, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Admission: $5; Free for ages 10 and under and 65+
Location: Romano 4-H Center of Chester County, 1841 Horseshoe Pike, Honey Brook, Chester County
Museum of Indian Culture
The Museum of Indian Culture is a volunteer-run, nonprofit resource center that educates visitors on Native American cultures. It’s not hosting a specific Indigenous Peoples’ Day event, but the museum honors and celebrates Native Americans all year. Visitors to the museum can participate in guided tours and educational programs, and walk the Lenape Trail. Along the trail, scannable codes lead to free online information and fun.
Date: Any day the museum is open, Friday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Admission: $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and children 12-17. Free for children under 12.
Location: 2825 Fish Hatchery Rd., Allentown, Lehigh County