Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day!
Ha Gawda Wiyuk!? Nuni Neyan Fawn Douglas, nik Nuwuvi! How are you doing!? My name is Fawn and I am Southern Paiute. I wanted to introduce myself in my Southern Paiute language and welcome you all to the Indigenous lands of our Nuwuvi people. I am a member of the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe and a Community Associate with Meow Wolf Las Vegas. I also have roots in the Southern Cheyenne, Creek, Pawnee and the Moapa Paiute tribe just fifty miles north from the heart of Las Vegas, NV.
Meow Wolf Las Vegas is on the ancestral lands of the Southern Paiute people. We recognize and pay respects to those that have come before us, and to also recognize that the Indigenous people are still here today. We define Indigenous as the first peoples of the land before the time of colonization.
Our community and Native American’s across the country celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day today to recognize these truths of the lands we stand on, to celebrate that our people are still here, and to acknowledge the beauty and culture of our people and Inter-Tribal relatives today. We are Indigenous everyday. We are a part of this Nation. Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a way for all of us to move forward together to decolonize. We recognize this day above Columbus Day every second Monday of October.
It is a way to heal from the past atrocities on our ancestors that were committed. To recognize the past, celebrate the beauty of today, and move forward together. The Native American youth of our community are leading the way in culture and pride towards a brighter future.
We have a vibrant community in Las Vegas. Currently, the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe has 55 members over the age of twenty-one. The tribe has its own economic development that supports its people and a thriving culture. Our Tribe hosts a variety of events each year to gather and celebrate, including the Snow Mountain Pow Wow every Memorial Day weekend to honor Veterans. This celebration has been open to the public for a weekend of cultural sharing, dances, food and Native arts vendors. This year the Tribe had to cancel the 30th Anniversary of the Snow Mountain Pow Wow in consideration for the safety of our people, we look forward to seeing all of our relatives and friends again after the pandemic.
Las Vegas is not only the homelands to the Nuwuvi, but about 50,000 people who self-identify as Native American live in Clark County, according to census statistics last year. New community members connect with the Las Vegas Indian Center, a hub for many Native Americans that assists with jobs, cultural learning and events for Native people such as the virtual Pow Wow dance classes. Communities across the country have these centers to bring Indigenous people together, and support our culture.
One of the Pow Wow dance instructors at the Las Vegas Indian Center, Amaia Marcos, is a member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe and Santee Dakota descendent. She has also been assisting the 2020 Census Campaign with the Center for Native American Youth and the National Urban Indian Family Coalition through the Indian Center. Amaia is also a physics major at the College of Southern Nevada. Through Generation Indigenous, she organized the “Our Voices Matter” mural painted of a jingle dress dancer on the outside of the Las Vegas Indian Center. The style of jingle dance was created for healing, a gift from the Ojibwe/Chippewa.
“Healing is what we need from our government after long generational injustice & Genocide. I encourage all our youth to start taking a stand for our people. Our elders fought for us to be where we are now. So be proud and be loud!” - Amaia Marcos
The “Our Voices Matter” mural was painted by local artist Gear Duran. Gear Duran has large scale murals throughout Las Vegas and was chosen by the Generation Indigenous census campaign for his past artistic story-telling during the #NoDAPL movement. In 2016, his mural told the story of the Water Protectors and connected the Las Vegas Native Community to a place in the Arts District to gather for activism near the art. Today, his mural depicting the Native American youth connects the community once again to a story that has ignited community pride.
The “Our Voices Matter” mural is now public for all to see and admire the representation of a diverse Native community of Las Vegas.
With so many Native American people in Las Vegas, there is also a growing student population at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The Native American Student Association (UNLV NASA) serves as a social organization dedicated to Native culture and educational attainment. They are celebrating their culture by hosting the 3rd annual Mx. Native UNLV the week of October 12, 2020. The title and crown will be earned by a competition amongst Native American students. The students have made the competition inclusive to all pronouns, respecting their two-spirit Natives. The competition celebrates the many cultures of their UNLV Native community with contestants performing a traditional and contemporary talent. The winner will represent UNLV NASA for one calendar year.
The first duty of the newly crowned Mx. Native UNLV will represent the students at the UNLV Native American Student Association Virtual Pow Wow on December 19th, 2020. The Native students are leading the way in innovative ways to connect culture and community. The event will be open to the public viewers to learn about and enjoy the many dance styles celebrated at Pow Wows.
We ask that you celebrate and acknowledge Indigenous peoples today and everyday. Join us in taking an action to support the Las Vegas Native community.
About Fawn Douglas
I am an artist, activist, and mother who resides in Las Vegas, Nevada, and I work with Meow Wolf as a Community Associate. Indigenous knowledge, passed on through storytelling, influences my work, as cultural heritage bridges my people's history into contemporary times.