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Vibrant Spirit of Indigenous Culture: Manitou Springs’ Annual Celebration Ignites a Cultural Renaissance

Vibrant Spirit of Indigenous Culture: Manitou Springs’ Annual Celebration Ignites a Cultural Renaissance

The Indigenous Peoples Weekend in Manitou Springs is a significant celebration of Native American history and culture that aims to recognize and honor the deep roots of the Native American culture in the Pikes Peak region. It promotes inclusivity and unity among Native and non-Native community members.

In our upcoming EcoReporter segment, we will be highlighting the annual Indigenous Peoples Weekend in Manitou Springs, a three-day celebration that showcases the rich history and vibrant culture of Native Americans. This event, now in its third year, is considered one of the bedrock cultures of the Pikes Peak region, according to Manitou Springs Mayor John Graham.

The festivities kicked off with an art gallery opening titled “Manitou: The Art of the Great Spirit,” which featured artwork from local artists and a captivating performance by the Buffalo Lodge Drum Group and dancers. This event set the tone for the weekend, emphasizing the importance of art and storytelling in Native American culture.

On Saturday, Ute spiritual leader Larry Cespooch delivered a presentation on the Ute Creation Story at the SunWater Spa. The event also included the dedication of a spa fountain to honor Ute leader and language teacher Loya Arrum, who passed away in 2014. This presentation provided an opportunity for attendees to learn about the spiritual beliefs and traditions of the Ute tribe.

The highlight of the weekend took place on Sunday when members of the Manitou community joined representatives from 13 Indigenous groups to plant a young cottonwood sapling behind Manitou’s Memorial Hall. This symbolic act represented a conciliation effort between different Native groups in the region, emphasizing the importance of unity and shared heritage. Traditional gifts of tobacco, sweetgrass, and cedar were presented to Ute elders before Arrow Priest Joe David Osage led the ceremony.

The cottonwood tree holds great significance in Native American culture, as it is often used for prayer and ceremonies. Apache tribe member Manuel Pulido explained that the tree serves as a reminder of the family ties that Native groups share, even when disagreements arise. The planting ceremony involved community members sprinkling tobacco into the hole reserved for the tree and offering prayers for its long and healthy life.

After the planting, Ute elders hosted a potluck repast at Memorial Hall, featuring traditional Native American fare, including the renowned “Seven Minute Stew.” The potluck provided an opportunity for Native and non-Native community members to come together, share a meal, and strengthen their bonds.

Inclusion is a crucial theme of Indigenous Peoples Weekend, as Pulido emphasized the importance of non-Natives participating in the ceremonies. This celebration aims to unite the community by recognizing that non-Natives are an integral part of the Manitou Springs community as well.

While Columbus Day remains a federal holiday, about 200 U.S. cities now observe Indigenous Peoples Day in its place. This shift reflects a growing recognition and appreciation for the rich history and contributions of Native Americans.

Overall, Indigenous Peoples Weekend in Manitou Springs serves as a platform to educate and celebrate Native American culture, fostering unity and understanding among community members. By highlighting this event, we hope to raise awareness about the importance of recognizing and honoring the Indigenous heritage that is deeply embedded in our environment and communities.

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