Indigenous artist Santiago X showcased Serpent Mound, a group of effigy mounds in a Cook County forest preserve, as part of the county’s Racial Equity Week on Tuesday.
“I am a descendent of Mound Builders,” Santiago X said. “This monument we stand in front of right now is the first Indigenous earthwork to be created since the founding of the United States, so it’s important that we’re all here gathering to commemorate and to acknowledge the importance of racial equity.”
Effigy mounds are hills of soil built by Indigenous people for ceremonial purposes long before Columbus’ 1492 arrival to the Caribbean and the subsequent settlement of Europeans in North America.
American Indian Center Executive Director Heather Miller, an enrolled citizen of the Wyandotte Nation, said she plans to work with Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and county commissioners to change Columbus Day, which occurs on Oct. 12, to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
“We expect that the change from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day is going to happen over the next year through the various legislative sessions,” Miller said.
Serpent Mound is part of the Northwest Portage Walking Museum, a network of earthwork commemorating the Indigenous people who occupied the land that would be known as Chicago.
Preckwinkle on Tuesday read an Indigenous land acknowledgement recognizing the tribes who lived in the area.
“I acknowledge that we are on the ancestral homelands of the Council of Three Fires: the Ojibwe, the Ottawa and the Potawatomi,” Preckwinkle said. “A place of trade with many other tribes, including the Ho-Chunk, the Miami, the Menominee, the Sauk and the Meskwaki.”
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