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Interviews & Talk

Western Mass Indian Affairs Commissioner reflects on Indigenous Peoples Day

Rhonda Anderson
Courtesy Ohketeau Cultural Center
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Rhonda Anderson

First Nations, Indigenous or Native Americans want everyone to know that their history is American history and that they're still here. First Nations, Indigenous or Native Americans want everyone to know that their history is American history and that they're still here. There are more than 6,300 indigenous people in western Massachusetts, according to US Census figures.

And Another Thing devotes Mondays to conversations with just one person. In this case, it’s a conversation with Rhonda Anderson, western Massachusetts Commissioner of Indian Affairs and co-director of the Oketeau Cultural Center. She is a native Alaskan.

“I feel like that is a very important step and reckoning the history and removing this veil of obscurity like we're still here. We have faced intentional genocide. We faced intentional cultural genocide, and we are still here, and we know who we are,Anderson told And Another Thing.

“There are so many amazing celebrations going on in Massachusetts. A lot of these towns are celebrating for the first time, which is incredible. I am personally going to be setting up an informational tent at a celebration in the Great Falls,” she said.

President Biden proclaimed today Indigenous People’s Day. Amherst, Easthampton, Holyoke, Great Barrington and Northampton were among the other western Massachusetts communities that had planned celebrations.