A to Z

Phoenix and Tempe will celebrate Indigenous People’s Day for the first time this year

By: - October 6, 2023 2:11 pm

Photo by Shondiin Silversmith | Arizona Mirror

Arizona doesn’t recognize Indigenous People’s Day, but two Arizona cities are officially recognizing it for the first time: Phoenix and Tempe both will celebrate the holiday on Oct. 9.

“I was proud to create an official Indigenous Peoples Day in Phoenix,” Mayor Kate Gallego said. “As a city whose roots trace back to the Huhugam people and those who called this area home for generations, it’s only fitting that we celebrate and honor the rich culture, innovations, and resilient spirit of the Indigenous community.”

The Phoenix City Council on April 19 approved a resolution declaring the second Monday in October of each year Indigenous Peoples’ Day. 

This means that city offices will be closed, and it will be a paid holiday for full-time city employees, like with the 12 other recognized city holidays.


Five months after the Phoenix City Council passed its resolution, the Tempe City Council approved a resolution on Sept. 7 recognizing Indigenous People’s Day as a paid city holiday. 

“By adopting Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the City of Tempe is demonstrating its commitment to being a more inclusive and culturally diverse community,” the city stated in a press release. 

The Tempe City Council passed the resolution 7-0, and Tempe Councilmember Doreen Garled, the first Indigenous person to sit on the Tempe council, said that she got choked up the moment Tempe Mayor Corey Woods announced the resolution passed. 

“I am so thankful to our council and staff for creating and approving Indigenous Peoples Day as a city holiday,” Garled said in a press release. “This is one more step that we have taken to show our commitment that Tempe’s Land Acknowledgement Resolution would be more than just words.”

The Tempe City Council passed the Native American Land Acknowledgement Resolution unanimously in 2021, commemorating the historical and cultural significance of the historic homelands in Tempe of the O’Odham, Piipaash, and their ancestors.

Indigenous People’s Day celebrations

Indigenous People’s Day honors and celebrates Indigenous people across the United States by recognizing their rich histories and cultures.

“Each day, I strive to acknowledge and honor the perseverance of my people, taught to me by my family and ancestors,” said Eunique Yazzie, a Diné woman and the co-founding member of Cahokia PHX. “We come together to weave our stories of unwavering fortitude, grit, resourcefulness, and imaginative ways of collaboration.”

“Indigenous People’s Day is not only a celebration of the first inhabitants of these lands, but it’s also a call to action for our neighbors, colleagues, cities, and global communities to learn and understand the rich and diverse experiences, cultures, histories and contributions that we commemorate on this momentous occasion,” Yazzie said in April when the City of Phoenix made Indigenous Peoples Day an official holiday.

A large-scale Indigenous People’s Day celebration, the Indigenous Peoples’ Day Phx Fest, is happening in downtown Phoenix on Monday. 

This is the second such celebration, and the festival officials said Indigenous Peoples’ Day Phx Fest is returning to “Indigenize the Valley” with a celebration of Indigenous art, music, film, and food.

Cahokia PHX launched the festival in 2022 along Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix, and this year, they collaborated with the Heard Museum, the Phoenix Art Museum, the Burton Barr Central Library and multiple Indigenous creatives and entrepreneurs.

The goal is to provide festival goers with immersive experiences that celebrate the diverse culture of Indigenous people, the website states.

The festival will be held in Margaret T. Hance Park and will feature one main musical stage, a second cultural stage, a skateboard competition, an arts market, food vendors, and the 4th Annual RISE Art Installation featuring a PVC geodesic dome.

The event is free of charge, but festivalgoers are encouraged to register for tickets using Eventbrite. Details on how to participate in the skateboard competition and a full schedule of events are available on the festival website at www.ipdphx.com.


Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Shondiin Silversmith
Shondiin Silversmith

Shondiin Silversmith is an award-winning Native journalist based on the Navajo Nation. Silversmith has covered Indigenous communities for more than 10 years, and covers Arizona's 22 federally recognized sovereign tribal nations, as well as national and international Indigenous issues.