Man Honored for His Devotion to Others this Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Gladys Ray's granddaughter says she was a constant in the community

FARGO, N.D. — As many celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day, dozens from around North Dakota came to Fargo to observe the holiday.

KVRR’s Jessie Cohen tells us why one man was honored for devoting his life to taking care of others.

A room filled with culture, appreciation, and family…

…where tribal flags are presented and blessings heard…

…provides hope for the future, hope for positive change.

But one man has already started to make a difference…

“If I could help one person; I won. If I can help many, they won,” said Willard Yellowbird Jr., who won the Gladys Ray Award.

…and on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, his hard work is being honored.

“Which was totally a surprise. This is not for me, this is for the people. All the things that I did is for the people and the children,” Willard said.

“I think it made me tear up because that’s exactly what she has said,” said Amber Mattson, Gladys’s granddaughter.

Gladys’s granddaughter says she was a constant in the community.

“She just wanted to make a difference,” Amber said.

Which is why the city decided to name an award after her.

Now her descendants pick someone in her honor every year.

Yellowbird Jr. fits the mold.

“He was just always a constant in the community. Participating and helping and just being a good voice,” Amber said.

People were talking about you in such high honor, how are you feeling right now?

“I was blown out of water, I didn’t know I was going to be the person,” Willard said.

This day is also a celebration of a holiday once seen in a negative light.

Hundreds around the country are taking to social media like this post here, reminding people to say goodbye to Columbus Day and hello to indigenous people’s day.

“That means that we are finally starting to turn our indigenous history to the truth,” Willard said.

Many celebrating this renamed holiday say it’s a reminder to be more like Gladys.

“She found herself in many things even if she didn’t realize it or not,” Amber said.

And follow in the Footsteps of Willard.

North Dakota made the decision to switch to Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2015.

Categories: Community, Local News, North Dakota News