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Cultural Survival Celebrates the Summer and Winter Solstices with Indigenous Peoples of the World


By Avexnim Cojti Ren (Maya K’iche’, CS Staff)

Our ancestors have left us a great legacy. Let us commemorate, respect, and celebrate the sacred Grandfather Sun who is moving into another cycle of change, reminding us of our Mother Earth's gentle movement around him. His times are our times, regardless of where we are on Mother Earth.

We honor our Grandfather Sun in its solstice with dances, ceremonies, spiritual practices, offerings, music, food, and community gatherings on June 21 and 22 of each year. In Bolivia and Canada, these days are held as national holidays. In Canada, it is celebrated as Indigenous Peoples’ Day and in Bolivia, the Day of Willkakuti in honor of the Andean Amazonian New Year where the sun returns and the new agricultural cycle begins.

During the pandemic, it was difficult for many Indigenous Peoples to maintain their traditional solstice celebrations as well as other sacred holidays due to the imposed social distancing. The solstice celebrations in many Indigenous communities worldwide are celebrated through spiritual festivities and gatherings in which many people participate. This year, the limitations that were imposed during the pandemic have changed, opening up the possibilities for us to gather together again for spiritual celebrations as well as family and community get-togethers to commemorate another cycle of the sun.

In Indigenous worldviews and philosophies, there is no separation between science and spirituality. The observation of the cycles of Mother Earth, the sun, the moon, Venus, the Pleiades, and other stars and their interrelation with what exists in the world are interwoven within our practices of agriculture, fishing, hunting, and gathering.  The sustainability of our food systems and all living things are reliant on Grandfather Sun and Grandmother Moon. Astronomy also has a strong influence on the spirituality and worldviews of many Indigenous cultures. The creation stories of our Peoples include the stars that surround us, including Grandfather Sun. Many Peoples of the world have marked the solstices in monuments and calendars, in spiritual practices, and in coexistence on solstice days.

We thank the guardians of this ancestral knowledge because they have protected these important seeds of our collective memories, reminding us of the importance of change and how our bodies, minds, and spirits prepare for the season ahead.  Join us in supporting Indigenous Peoples in continuing to strengthen their spiritual practices and sciences to honor Grandfather Sun and more solstices to come.

Happy Summer Solstice, Happy Inti Raymi, Willkakuti, First Nations Day, Nimaq'ij Ajpu', We Tripantu.