How to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day in Austin in 2021



Photo courtesy of the Institute for Indigenous Cultures

Knowing it or not, central Texas has long been a hotbed of indigenous culture. Indigenous peoples settled here 15,500 years ago, with the two most famous tribes being the Caddo and the Tonkawa. To increase the visibility and representation of this often marginalized community, the city of Austin voted to officially recognize Indigineous Peoples’ Day on former Columbus Day in 2017, shifting the focus from celebrating the country’s violent colonial past to honoring the country Native American people of the region, but rather their country, history, and culture. And while things aren’t quite on the Juneteenth, Women’s History Month or LGBTQ + Pride scale just yet, Indigenous Peoples Day events in Austin are definitely gaining traction, both in terms of awareness and celebration.

To celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day on October 11th, we’ve put together a few ways to learn more about the community, get involved, and work to make this occasion one it deserves.

Institute for Indigenous Cultures
Photo courtesy of the Institute for Indigenous Cultures

This monday, Institute for Indigenous Cultures (ICI) will upload an online resource pack in conjunction with Indigenous Peoples Day. The package includes details of all organizations dedicated to promoting indigenous rights, promoting social justice and addressing urgent problems. Get online and see what you can do to help.

State Capitol Building
A little late for the party, but even so, Texas didn’t pass a law until the beginning of the year officially recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day at the state level. To toast the occasion, a party will be held on the south steps of the State Capitol on October 11th. Drummers from the Lipan Apache Tribe, renowned hoop dancer Kevin Locke and a fleet of local artists and speakers complete the program.

Austin Public Library
Austin Public Library | Jo Hunter / Shutterstock

Different places
Knowledge is power when it comes to building mass consciousness and luckily the Austin Public Library has plenty of resources in print, e-book, and audio formats. Recommended beginner titles available include versions of. for adults and young adults A history of the indigenous peoples of the United States as well as the child-friendly Indians in Texas. Once you’ve covered the basics, dive deeper into them Employee favorites for the day of the indigenous peoples.

Bullock Texas State History Museum
Photo courtesy of the Bullock Texas State History Museum

The Bullock Museum is celebrating its 20th anniversary and covers the full history of the creation of Texas. This therefore includes an exhibit documenting early Native American civilizations that cultivated the region before the arrival of Europeans, colonization, and the global politics that influenced the growth of early Texas. The venue spans three floors with exhibits, plus a theater, cafe, and gift shop, making it the perfect day out.


WYLD is the only gallery in Austin exclusively dedicated to Native American art. Founded by Ray Donley, a local attorney who has been collecting since the 1980s, the intimate space displays both traditional and contemporary art by indigenous artists. Many of the items on display are also for sale and you will need to make an appointment with Ray to see them in person.

Austin Powwow
Austin Powwow | Flickr / mirsasha

Austin Powwow is an annual social get-together for Native American communities that come together to sing, dance, eat, and other long-standing traditions. Run by the nonprofit Great Promise for American Indians, everyone is welcome to take part in their beautiful celebration of indigenous cultural heritage. And although the event has been postponed in 2021, you can still send them some cash and check out their website for future volunteer opportunities.

Get inspiration – and maybe even shop – by looking at the living works of top designers Nan blowgame of Indian ideas. Her elaborate jingle dress has already been featured at The Bullock Museum (jingle is an indigenous dance that is accompanied by a dress full of jingle cones that mimic the sound of rain) while other creations are at a variety of fashion shows around the world land was to be seen.

The meadow center for water and the environment
The meadow center for water and the environment

San Marcos
Spring Lake Outdoor Academy is a fun series of courses for kindergarten through 12th grade students that encourages them to get outside and get up close and personal with nature. This year’s October 12th edition is dedicated to indigenous cultural exploration, introducing children to the people who have lived and thrived in central Texas for thousands of years through hands-on games and crafts.

San Marcos
On your road trip to San Marcos, plan to stop at The Price community center. It will show a special exhibition on the ICI, curated by Paulina Dosal-Terminel. Items on display include dance insignia, ceremonial jewelry, youth art, and videos of the ICI’s important work.

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James Wong is a Libra who spends his time posing as a vegan, watching animal clips, and booking airline tickets. Born in London, lived in Tokyo and now lives in Austin. His biggest achievement is hugging Posh Spice in 2016.



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