North American First People's Day 2021

Walk 2018 Pictures

Schedule of Events

The walk at 1:30 on Sunday was canceled this year.

It is with much sadness that we inform you that the 1:30 p.m. Walk on Portage Path this Sunday has been canceled. The deaths of two elders on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation this week prevented four individuals from making the trip. The absence of their leadership, traditional regalia and musicianship coupled with a forecast of rainy skies led the Portage Path Collaborative to the decision for cancellation. All other programming will continue and we hope to see you at one or more of the other activities.

Sunday, October 3, 11: 30a.m – 1 p.m.
Summit Metro Parks will present a guided walk from the Big Bend area to the northernmost point of the Portage Path. Participants will learn about the history of this vital link between North American waterways and enjoy a talk at the northern terminus by artist Peter Jones (Onondaga/Seneca). Jones created the statues of the portaging American Indian which can be seen at both the northern and southern termini of the Portage Path. The walk will begin at 11:30 at the parking area of Big Bend Metro Park 1337 Merriman Rd.

A series of activities will recognize “North American First People’s Day” in Akron and Summit County, officially established by the Councils of the City of Akron and Summit County as the first Monday in October. The events are sponsored by The Portage Path Collaborative, an assembly of educators, organizations and individuals committed to preserving and sharing the history of the area’s First People.

Friday, October 1, 4pm – 7pm and Saturday, October 2, 11am – 4pm
Click HERE for more information

Beginning the weekend commemoration will be the opening of a new exhibit Lakota Wiá, at the Institute for Human Science and Culture at the University of Akron Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, 73 S College Street. Cuyahoga Falls artist Claire Heldman (Lakota, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Eagle Butte, South Dakota) features original art alongside unique handcrafted pieces of cultural and artistic significance dedicated to the artist’s mother. Her work has been shown in galleries throughout the United States and hangs in the Governor’s Multicultural Gallery in Columbus. The opening celebration is Friday, October 1, 4:00-7:00pm and continues Saturday, October 2, 11am-4pm. Admission is free and open to the public until January 29, 2022.

Monday, October 4, 7 :00pm
Click HERE for more information

Akron-Summit County Public Library will host a program Monday evening October 4 at 7:00pm in the Main

Library Auditorium that will be simulcast on an online ZOOM platform. Panelists will address two issues important to Native Americans living in our communities today.

The artists Peter Jones and Claire Heldman will be joined by representatives of the Northern Cheyenne nation to discuss how art connects their communities today with the culture of their past.

A second panel will focus on the contemporary issues around Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, with Shanae Leone (Seminole), who counsels the Northern Cheyenne Healing Hearts Program which provides support service for victims of domestic violence and other crimes. She will be joined by Dr. LaDonna Blue Eye of Akron (Choctaw), Lenore Waukau (Menominee) and other Native American women. Program details are available at .

Monday, October 4
The Collaborative will sponsor in-school activities around Summit County, including a “teach-in” with appearances by Indian nation representatives. Participating Akron Public School teachers are creating lesson activities aligned with the visits.

Our Walks on the Portage Path

Contemporary Issues of the Native American Community will be addressed by speakers commemorating Akron and Summit County’s North American First People’s Day, Monday, October 4, 7:00pm, at the Main Branch of the Akron-Summit County Public Library, 60 S. High Street, Akron, Ohio.

The preservation of American Indian History and Culture through art, music, and dance will be discussed by artist Peter Jones (Seneca/Onondaga) and ethnobotanist Linwood Tall Bull (Northern Cheyenne). Participating in the panel is Dr. Jodi Kearns, Director of the Institute for Human Science & Culture at the University of Akron, which currently features an art exhibit by Claire Heldman (Lakota, Cheyenne River Sioux). The Institute, located at the National Museum of Psychology in Akron hosts the Oak Gallery, an extensive exhibit of Native American art and artifacts.

A second panel will address the urgent issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Dr. LaDonna Blue Eye (Choctaw), a member of the Portage Path Collaborative who has served as Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Sciences at Indiana University School of Public Health will be joined by Shanae Leone Seminole (Northern Cheyenne), who works in the Healing Hearts Program for victims of domestic violence on the Northern Cheyenne reservation in Montana.

The program will be moderated by Akron historian Dave Lieberth and will be held in the library’s auditorium. For program details and online viewing, go to

The panel is sponsored by the Portage Path Collaborative, an assembly of educators, organizations and individuals committed to preserving and sharing the history of the area’s First People.

Background on the Walks

  • Akron City Council in 2018 declared the first Monday in October as “North American First People’s Day,” a day to honor Indian history, life and culture. It was extended to the entire county in April 2019 by Summit County Council. The initiative was prompted by students at The Lippman School of Akron, which has a longstanding exchange relationship with the Northern Cheyenne Nation of Montana.

  • Students from Lippman, Portage Path CLC and the Cheyenne Nation joined together in 2016 to create a web-based mobile app that provides extensive information about the Indian trail, including its history and the natural world that it traverses. The app can be accessed at

  • The Portage Path Collaborative includes The Summit County Historical Society, The Lippman School, Summit Metro Parks, Akron Public Schools, the Akron-Summit County Public Library, and The University of Akron Institute for Human Science and Culture/ Cummings Center for the History of Psychology. Two individuals, La Donna Blue Eye, a member of the Choctaw Nation and Akron artist Chuck Ayers are also members of the group.

  • A brochure outlining the historic trail and the history of Native peoples who used the Portage Path has been published and is free and available at the Historical Society and at Metro Parks’ F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm.

  • The sculpture of a Native American portaging a canoe was designed and sculpted by Peter Jones who resides and works on the Alleghany Indian Reservation near Salamanca, New York. He graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe in 1965 and has been honored with national awards recognizing his lifetime commitment to perpetuating Haudenosaunee traditions and to restore and pass on ancestral knowledge and traditions, connecting Native peoples to their greatest assets.

  • The mission of the Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio is supported by the operation of the Food Truck and strengthens NAICCO’s community-driven initiatives – social development, economic development, and cultural restoration/preservation.

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