San Antonio – This year marks the first time a U.S. president has officially recognized Indigenous People’s Day and celebrations were held across the nation including San Antonio.

Ceremonies and dances were held at Our Lady of the Lake University to celebrate indigenous heritage and the diversity that is in the community.

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“This is a day that we celebrate the fact that Indigenous people are the first nations here on this continent, the whole continent of the Americas, and to also recognize that this land has been occupied for 500 years and that we continue to survive,” said Aimee Villarreal, Director for the Center of Mexican American Studies and Research at Our Lady of the Lake University.

It was a celebration of culture and existence of Indigenous people.

“Indigenous people are all over the continent of the Americas,” Villarreal said.

“I’m here representing Kalpulli Ayolopahtzin, it’s a tribe of families that are reclaiming our indigenous life ways. Our parents are immigrants from Mexico, from Michoacan,” said Luissana Santibanez, attendee.

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Santibanez said she’s thankful for events like these.

“I think that by the university sponsoring these kinds of events, it’s definitely a way to recognize all the progress that’s made and all the contributions that Native Americans make to our daily lives,” Santibanez said.

With President Joe Biden proclaiming today as Indigenous Peoples Day, some say it shows progress.

“I think that it shows an evolution in our thinking about what it means to be a settler colonial nation and also bringing to light the fact that we have this broad diversity of indigenous people that we’re still here,” Villarreal said.

“This is a day to reclaim our dignity as human beings,” Santibanez said.

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