Local Organizations Partner to Host Indigenous Peoples’ Day Celebration October 9

Bellingham, WA – Community members are invited to join several local organizations in celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day from 5 – 8 p.m. on October 9, 2023 at the Wex’liem Community Building near Gooseberry Point in Lummi Nation. Honoring the enduring leadership of Indigenous people in caring for the earth, the event will include a community dinner; Indigenous artists, vendors, and speakers; and song, dance and ceremony by local leaders.

"Smoke Signals: Messages from Mother Earth" Indigenous People's Day 2023 artwork by local artist, Beau Garreau.

Youth speaker Santana Rabang (Lummi, Nooksack, First Nations Shxwhá:y Village) and keynote speaker Dr. Evan Adams (Tla’amin First Nation), a Coast Salish physician, public health expert and star of the movie “Smoke Signals”, will address the event theme, Smoke Signals: Messages from Mother Earth.

The event begins with a salmon dinner, free for all attendees, and the chance to visit booths featuring the work of Indigenous artists and non-profit organizations. The Blackhawk Singers will open and close the event with ceremonial song and dance.

Held at the Wex’liem Community Building, 2100 Blackhawk Way, Bellingham, WA, this Indigenous People’s Day celebration is an opportunity for non-Indigenous and Indigenous community members to gather together in a cultural space that is significant to the Lummi community.

“The gathering of Indigenous Voices will help unite the people of all races and ethnicities around the idea of sharing and respect,” said Darrell Hillaire, Executive Director of Children of the Setting Sun Productions.

Free community shuttles will run from Whatcom Community College to the Wex’liem. Shuttles depart WCC at 4:30 p.m. Additional event details, including directions, transportation options, and speaker bios are available at wwu.edu/indigenous-peoples-day

About the event sponsors

This event is sponsored by the Community Consortium for Cultural Recognition (CCCR), a partnership comprising an array of local organizations: Bellingham Public Schools, Bellingham Technical College, City of the Bellingham, Northwest Indian College, PeaceHealth, Swinomish Tribal Community Education Department, Western Washington University and Whatcom Community College. Children of the Setting Sun Productions has joined the Consortium as a key sponsor of this year’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day event.

Past CCCR events include previous Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrations, Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month celebration at Depot Market Square in May 2023, and Martin Luther King Day events in 2021, 2022 & 2023.

“The Consortium hosts these events as a way to encourage deeper understanding and continued learning that moves us toward collective action in support of equity and inclusion in our community,” said Chris Roselli, Director of Community Relations for WWU. “It’s an honor to come together with so many people and organizations to recognize and celebrate the diverse backgrounds and cultures that make our community great.”

About the artwork

Many Native peoples refer to the continent of North America as Turtle Island, which comes from Indigenous oral histories that tell stories of a turtle holding the world on its back. For some Indigenous peoples, the turtle is thought to symbolize life, and the story of Turtle Island speaks to various spiritual and cultural beliefs.

In this piece, Turtle Island is in distress and covered in smoke, which is a theme of the Indigenous People's Day event this year, "Smoke Signals: Messages from Mother Earth." Parts of B.C. burned for much of the summer. So did Washington. Yet, it's not just Coast Salish People being impacted by our planet's current state, but many Indigenous communities around the continent are being impacted, including Alaska, California, and Maui. 


Media Contacts

Jonathan Higgins
Director of Communications, WWU

Amy McKinley
Children of the Setting Sun Productions
amym@settingsunproductions.org, (360) 927-0099