Communities around the country celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day this week. Columbus Day is passé. Statues of the once-revered explorer are now regularly replaced with those that commemorate the life and accomplishments of Mr. Peoples.
“It’s all kind of crazy,” Peoples said. “I’ve got no beef against Columbus. He grows on you a bit, the more you learn about him. But, I’m happy that so many people want to honor me.”
The retired candy engineer now works as a crossing guard at Lupus J. Wildebeest Middle School in Amarillo Texas. His claim to fame was suggesting Pixi Stix straws be folded at each end to keep the tart and tangy sugar in the tube until it was ready to be consumed.
“Before I came up with the idea, they had tried staples, tape, even glue, but nothing really worked until I suggested they just fold over both ends of the straw until a kid was ready to open and pour it in their mouth,” added Peoples. We used to call them straws back in those days. Now they call it fancy stuff like ‘confection delivery systems’ or something.”
Peoples noted that his mom chose to name him Indigenous because she kept seeing that name come up month after month in the National Geographic magazine. His dad wanted to name him Earnest.
He does seem perplexed that his new-found appreciation has anything to do with Columbus. He pointed out that discovering the Americas was probably a pretty big deal in its day.
Peoples is proud of the note he recently received from Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren but suggested she didn’t seem like a Pixi Stix person. He feels that she is kind of a scold and doesn’t seem to ever have much fun. He also thinks she probably has more important things to think about, but couldn’t really think of what those might be. Nonetheless, he appreciates the attention.
“My brother, Native, used to get all the attention,” Peoples noted. “It really went to his head. Now that I’m getting some notoriety, he mopes around a lot. I think he appreciates how Columbus must feel.” This year’s Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations included parades, marches, lectures, toppling of a few statues and a celebration of the life of Indigenous Peoples performed in pantomime.