ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford celebrated Indigenous People’s Day on Monday. The holiday honors Native American people and their culture.
We spoke with a local museum that takes the holiday to heart, as the Stateline was once the home of many Native American tribes.
“When we’re looking at the history of Rockford, specifically we have to acknowledge we’re not on the land of only a specific group. It’s many people and many tribes who have walked this land before us,” said Maria Chiaberta of Burpee Museum of Natural History.
Rockford is rooted in Native American history.
“Especially when it comes to Indigenous communities because oftentimes Indigenous communities are very much looked down upon as if they were not progressive enough in their technologies, but they were very creative and imaginative in the ways that they used different things,” Chiaberta said.
The Burpee Museum of Natural History houses a wide array of artifacts from Native American communities.
“One thing we have is a bow and arrow. It doesn’t have an arrow with it… When they used these they would attach different points to them,” Chiaberta explained.
These are just two examples of arrowheads found in Illinois.
“We also do have a variety of basket types here, so we can see this one was a little bit larger a little bit more intricate in the way it was created where it’s actually woven into itself with the different natural fibers, she added. “You would typically see baskets that looked like this and these are actually just pieces of bark wrapped around itself.”
“I would like to encourage people if they would like to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day to stop at the museum we are open on the weekends and we can take a walk through the exhibits so they can start to learn and understand people that came before them…we now take the space of,” she added.
Classes at RPS 205 were also in session on Monday since November 3rd is a holiday. Earlier this year, Illinois lawmakers voted to make Election Day a state holiday for government workers and public school teachers.
That forced RPS 205 Board Members to make a change to the school schedule. Educators are using Columbus Day to teach students about the meaning behind the federal holiday.
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