Native community celebrates tradition, history in San Jose

Bay Area

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) – The native community is celebrating their tradition and history at a free event called Indigenous Peoples Day this weekend in San Jose.

For many locals, this is one of a few opportunities to come together and pass along those traditions to the next generation.

Yeitochtli Mitlalpilli has been dazzling Bay Area audiences with an Aztec dance group for more than 20 years.

This weekend, he is hosting yet another event in San Jose welcoming natives of all tribes to share and observe age-old traditions.

Starting with a land recognition, and featuring Miwok along with Aztec dancers and artisan creations.

“It’s important to do this and teach our children here in the Bay Area there is a large population not only of Native Americans but also Mexican or what some people call Chicano or Mexicano or Latino some people say community and most of those children and most of those people have indigenous blood in them so we also want to empower them with identity, with culture, with community, with traditions,” Mitlalpilli said. 

Many Northern California tribes are not federally recognized and without land where they can gather.

There has been a growing movement to reconnect to ancient roots and proclaim that their people and customs are alive and well today.

After searching for his own Apache, Pima and Aztec family history, Jay Guerra of Sunnyvale launched the Unified Indigenous Movement page on Instagram during the pandemic which quickly amassed tens of thousands of followers in search of community.

“I love the fact that I am able to help people reconnect, I love the fact that I’m able to spread awareness,” Jay Guerra said. 

Guerra explains that like his own family, many Native Americans pretended to be Mexican taking on new last names to hide from Spanish settlers.  

He’s looking forward to this weekend to instead honor their ancestors and pass down lessons to his own kids.

“Now that I found out more about my history and my roots I feel more connected and I feel more at home. I feel more at peace that I know how I am and I can raise my kids with this knowledge, I could teach them and they could teach their kids so we can keep it going so it never dies out,” Guerra said. 

Guerra encourages people to move past roadblocks in their search for their identity.

The Indigenous Peoples Day event starts Friday and goes on through Sunday at the Garden at the Flea on Berryessa in San Jose.

Weekend Schedule

  • Fri, Oct 1, 5-9 pm RasK DJ
  • Sat, Oct 2, 11 am Miwok Dancers
  • Sat, Oct 2, 12-2 pm, Audiopharmacy
  • Sat, Oct 2, 3-5 pm, SupaManHiphop
  • Sun, Oct 3, 9-5 pm, DJ Chuy Gomez


  • $3 on Fridays.
  • $7 on Saturdays.
  • $15 on Sundays

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