On one of the few sunny days in recent memory, more than a thousand people turned out for the parade and celebration to kick off American Indian Month on April 29. People traveled from across the region to meet in South Minneapolis for the event. Sergeant Patrick Blu and Robert Durant of the White Earth Veterans Honor Guard left at 4 a.m. that morning to make the 250 mile trek to Minneapolis.
“This is truly important to all Native Americans. Today represents the cohesiveness between people and the lives we share,” said Durant.
Elaine Sullivan and her mother, Marlene Huf took the bus in from Forest Lake and transferred to the light rail to get to the celebration.
“I’ve been coming to this for 12 years and this is the biggest turnout yet,” said Huf, who works for the Leech Lake Twin Cities office. Huf says she enjoys the annual event because “there’s a lot of Indians here – we have to stand up for who we are.”
A sophomore at Augsburg College, John Boyd attended the event as a representative of the Red Lake Embassy. He recently became more active in his college community as well, and currently serves as secretary of Augsburg’s Indigenous Student Association.
“I thought it was time for me to get more involved in the community, to network, and to connect with other Native students,” he said.
Herbert Sam, a traditional spiritual leader from the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, traveled to the event to speak to the group and deliver the opening prayer.
“As we are walking today, in our hearts we need to be remembering and honoring past generations,” said Sam.
He urged everyone in attendance to be more kind and loving with one another, and explained that the Indian culture is about a life well lived.
“’Culture’ is a Caucasian word. To be a good person is what our culture is truly about. I don’t wear this today to show you I’m a true Indian,” Sam said about his headdress. “I wear this because I earned it.
Each one of these feathers represents a good deed I have either done, or have yet to do in this life.”
The parade went from Cedar Field to the American Indian Center in Minneapolis, where the celebration was held in conjunction with the American Indian Wellness Fair.