Students hold symbolic walk to honor Native Americans on Portage Path

Akron among cities considering changing name of 'Columbus Day'

AKRON - About 100 students joined in a symbolic walk along Akron’s Portage Path in tribute to Native Americans who settled here.

The ceremony featured traditional Northern Cheyenne drumming and singing as students from the Lippman School, Portage Path CLC, Emmanuel Christian Academy and the Northern Cheyenne Nation walked.

The educational walk allowed the students learn more about the native people who used the area to travel from between the Cuyahoga and Tuscarawas rivers. The path was created by indigenous people and remains one of the oldest landmarks in North America.

"“It’s an honor to bring this Portage Path to life again,” said Burt Medicine Bull of the Northern Cheyenne Nation in Montana. “I know that we set the spirits free to be able to traverse this Portage Path.”

 
Bull teamed up with the Lippman School in Akron more than 5 years ago to educate students on the history of his tribe as part of a cultural exchange program. 
 
“It’s the culmination of a lot of dreaming and bringing about the education of native cultural expressions to people who don’t have much experience with it,” said Sam Chestnut, head of school at Lippman.
 
The timing of today’s walk coincides with Columbus Day, which has been the source of much debate as cities across the nation have discussed the replacment and celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day. The city of Akron voted on a similar proposal on Sept. 11. The proposal, introduced by council member Russel Neal, was turned down, causing tension among members.
 
 
After the contentious debate, city council members Neal, Rich Swirsky and Jeff Fusco walked alongside students and members of the tribe. Fusco and Swirsky voted against the proposal. Fusco, who supported the partnership between the school and Northern Cheyenne when he served as mayor of Akron, said there’s still discussion taking place on how another proposal could be brought to the table. 
 
“I think we have to look at all of our options and bring everyone to the table,” said Fusco. 
 
As the debate continues, the push to educate others on the culture of Native Americans continue. Some students at the Lippman School are expected to travel to Montana soon as part of the cultural exchange program.
 
*This story was updated to include the attendance of council member Russel Neal at the event. Neal introduced the proposal to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day in Akron. 

© 2017 WKYC-TV


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