The City of Gainesville uncovered a new downtown historical marker that remembers the indigenous Potano people at a ceremony outside city hall Monday evening.
At the event, Mayor Lauren Poe named Oct. 11, 2021, as Indiginous Peoples’ Day in Gainesville.
“On this day, we acknowledge and honor all First Americans and the significant contributions they have made over millennia of our shared history,” Poe said at the ceremony.
Poe spoke about the Potano people in particular, who lived in the Gainesville area, and the abuses they and other Native Americans have faced.
However, he also touched on present issues.
“We acknowledge that we have a shared responsibility to address inequities in housing, education, healthcare, violence and environmental justice faced by our Native American neighbors,” Poe said.
After the proclamation, Marcus Briggs-Cloud unveiled the new marker. The current marker will be replaced by a permanent one designed like other city markers.
The marker reads:
We remember them with compassion
Naebahiono manta nahiabotanicano
Gainesville is part of the traditional homelands of the Potano people, a Timucua-speaking society. The Timucua people lived here since time immemorial. Indigenous peoples from other nations long inhabited the area around what is now called Gainesville, and made innumerable contributions to the region. By the end of the 18th century, most of the Timucua people were obliterated by disease, violence and warfare. May this marker remind us to perpetually seek ways of mirroring the regenerative lifeways of the original Indigenous stewards of this land.
After a blessing of the land, Briggs-Cloud spoke about Native American language.
“East of the Mississippi River, we have only 23 speakers left of our language,” Briggs-Cloud said. “Not really possible to say that we’re thriving today, but we’re trying the best that we can to keep it going.”
But he said proclaiming Oct. 11 as Indigenous Peoples’ Day and raising a marker will help raise consciousness of the issues the people are facing.
He ended the ceremony with a prayer-song in the Native American language.