ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque Public Schools students organized a celebration event in honor of Native American Heritage Month. The Indigenous Life Celebration event was a day of interactive workshops promoting leadership development, Native American language and culture, and learning about topics most important to Native youth.

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Tehya Barber is a senior at Eldorado High School and one of the students who organized the event. “This event is to celebrate Indigenous life and all of our Native people have purpose and have a role in our lives. The purpose of this event is really to help people shine, inform them, and provide support services for them,” Barber said.

Janeen Pacheco is a freshman at Albuquerque High School and said the event took about two months to plan. “We just wanted to get the word out there that there are certain issues and certain artists, and just a little bit of everything that comes out from Indigenous communities that people might not know of,” Pacheco said.

The event was open to the public and drew around 50 guests and vendors. “For future events that are supported by APS Indian Education, or for our APS Native American leadership council, everyone is welcome. And they’re welcome to support or volunteer. They’re always welcome,” Barber said.

At Cottonwood Mall. Food is Free Albuquerque was hosting its book drive and gift wrapping event in partnership with Rio Grande Food Project and Libros for Kids to provide holiday reading gifts in conjunction with a food box giveaway.

Erin Garrison of Food is Free said the community is encouraged to donate new or previously loved books and help wrap them so children in the community can bring home a wrapped gift for Christmas. “We also have a kid’s gift-making station where people can bring the kiddos in and they can make gifts for their friends and family for the holidays,” Garrison said.

She said last year, the organization collected approximately 400 books to give away for Christmas. This year, they’ve already collected 600 books. They will be accepting donations until November.

Donations can be dropped off at the FIFABQ Community Space in Cottonwood Mall every Saturday from 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Books can also be purchased from their Amazon Wishlist and will be sent directly to FIFABQ.