Celebrants gathered at Carlos Vega Park in South Holyoke at 11:30 a.m. for the opening ceremonies.

HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The city officially celebrated its first Indigenous People’s Day Saturday morning.

Celebrants gathered at Carlos Vega Park in South Holyoke at 11:30 a.m. for the opening ceremonies.

The city was honored by the presence of Taíno leader, Chali’naru Dones from Newton who facilitated the opening and closing ceremonies and spoke about the Taíno people and their connection to the Puerto Rican community.

Western Mass News spoke with Dones to find out what she hopes for future generations.

“When you’re speaking about schools and curriculum I believe that the false narratives and all of those myths about Columbus needs to be changed; we have to literally toss those textbooks out because their worthless and bring in some new and updated history and bring in real facts about what really happened for our youth to really learn,” Chali’naru Dones said.

Holyoke recently passed a resolution to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day to honor, in part, the Taíno ancestors of 54 percent of Holyoke residents who are of Puerto Rican descent.

Over 20 cities and towns in Massachusetts, including neighboring Easthampton, have chosen to officially change the holiday.

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