Screen shot 2013-09-26 at 1.22.49 PMFriday, Sept. 27, is the first ever American Indian Heritage Day in Texas. The Texas Legislature designated the day on the suggestion of Elmwood resident Peggy Larney.

It all started with a Facebook post.

Larney posted the following on Columbus Day in 2011:

“It is inappropriate for Indian children and children of America to celebrate a day honoring a person for discovering a nation of people and not having a holiday paying tribute to the people of those nations.”

Larney formed a committee with the Southwest Jewish Congress and local American Indians to create a day dedicated American Indian Heritage in Texas. State Rep. Roberto Alonzo of Oak Cliff wrote and introduced the bill that would pass unanimously through the Texas House and Senate, and the governor signed it into law in May.

The law declares that the last Friday in September is designated American Indian Heritage Day in Texas and is “observed by appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs in the public schools and other places to honor American Indians in this state and to celebrate the rich traditional and contemporary American Indian culture.”

A celebration of the day, Re-birth 2013, is planned for Saturday, Sept. 28, at Lone Star Park. The celebration begins at 9:55 with a drum song, followed by a prayer and awards. More drumming starts at 2 p.m., and the Choctaw Children Dance Group performs at 4 p.m.

Larney is a full-blood American Indian and a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. As neighbor Kathleen Beathard puts it: Larney is “an advocate, presenter, educator, and a strong voice against stereotyping of American Indians. Since her retirement as director for the American Indian Education Program for the Dallas Independent School District, she is still active in both the Indian and non-Indian civic, inter-faith, inter-religious, and community organizations.”