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Posted on: October 5, 2022

Park Renaming Ceremony to Take Place on Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Park Renaming

EAST LANSING, Mich. — During this year’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Abbot Road Park will become Azaadiikaa Park during a special Park Renaming Ceremony hosted by the City of East Lansing and the Abbot Road Park Renaming Committee on Monday, Oct. 10 at 11 a.m. at 2801 Abbot Road. 

In recognition of historic and contemporary Indigenous people who gather, trade, learn, work and celebrate in the Greater Lansing area (Nkwejong), all community members are invited to be a part of this special ceremony. Traditional attire is welcome. 

Background
An application was recently submitted by East Lansing resident Nichole Biber, Ph. D., to rename Abbot Road Park with an Indigenous language-based name to acknowledge and educate residents and visitors about Indigenous heritage. East Lansing City Council voted to forward Biber’s application to an ad hoc committee (the Abbot Road Park Renaming Committee) appointed by East Lansing Mayor Ron Bacon. At the Sept. 20 City Council meeting, the appointed committee presented the name to Council: Azaadiikaa Park (pronunciation: uh-ZAH-dee-kah).

The name Azaadiikaa means “Many Cottonwoods,” to honor their strong presence and all the tribal nations who uphold their sacred being. Cottonwood trees are sacred to Indigenous nations throughout Turtle Island, also known as the United States, and recognized in kinship among Indigenous peoples. 

The new park name is further explained in this excerpt from the Park Renaming resolution approved by Council:

Cottonwood trees hold a strong presence throughout the City and especially within the parklands, by virtue of their numbers, height, sound and distinctive movement of leaves. Cottonwood trees follow and show where waters run and reside, in reflection of how Anishinaabek and other Indigenous nations from across the Great Lakes gathered together at these river places converging on the lands named Nkwejong, now known as East Lansing and Greater Lansing.  

“This park renaming aligns with our City Councilmembers’ commitment to uplift all of the voices in our community as well as their pledge by resolution for Indigenous Peoples’ Day to sustain the natural woodlands, meadows, wetlands and green spaces in East Lansing’s parks,” East Lansing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director Elaine Hardy said. “It is significant that this park renaming ceremony is happening on Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the largest park in East Lansing.”

“For all of us alive at this time, we have a responsibility to commit ourselves to the protection and restoration of the natural world, humble in our dependence. Waters and plants and insects and animals large and small have for far too long been sacrificed for the sake of profit and ease. All across Turtle Island and around the world, Indigenous nations are finding strength in community to uphold the inherent worth and value of All Our Relations, to heal our lands and our people with gratitude and love,” Dr. Biber said. “Azaadiikaa Park is a place to gather and spend time with the sounds and sights that would be familiar to our ancestors: the namesake cottonwood trees, the wetland and meadow plant species, the animals drawn to a haven where they can conduct their lives. People also need such places, for every aspect of our health and well-being. For Indigenous people in particular, it is critical that we be able to restore our spirits and our relationships, so we can continue the necessary work of sustaining our traditional cultural values, which are so intertwined with balanced, thriving ecosystems.”

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