SAN FRANCISCO - The City of San Francisco and the American Indian Cultural Center held a celebration Wednesday evening to kick off Native American Heritage Month in November, honoring four local leaders.
The ceremony included traditional dancing, drumming, singing, and food in the rotunda of San Francisco City Hall.
The theme was "Honoring Today's Leaders for the Next Generation," and four Bay Area Native American heroes were given awards.
The 2023 awardees included:
- Eloy Martinez (Southern Ute), a retired contractor who participated for more than 50 years in the Alcatraz movement protests to reclaim native land.
- Lakota Harden (Minnecoujou/Yankton Lakota and Hochunk), a community organizer, cardio host, poet, and activist.
- Crystal Wahpepah (Kickapoo Nation), an Oakland-born chef and owner of the restaurant Wahpepah's Kitchen, who was the first Native American Chef on the Food Network's "Chopped" TV show.
- Martin Waukazoo (Rosebud Sioux/Lakota), retiring CEO of the Native American Health Center in Oakland.
Mayor London Breed lauded the honorees and Assemblyman James Ramos who represents California's 45th District in the San Bernadino area and is a member of the Serrano/Cahuilla tribe was also part of the ceremony.
In 1990, President George H.W. Bush declared November as National American Indian Heritage Month.