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Newton to honor Indigenous Peoples’ Day as Boston Marathon passes through city

Ellison M. "Tarzan" Brown, a 22-year-old a member of Rhode Island's Narragansett tribe, as he broke the tape to win the 40th annual Boston Marathon on April 19, 1936.Associated Press

As Newton recognizes its first-ever Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Monday, Oct. 11, the city will be hosting celebrations honoring the region’s native inhabitants while thousands of runners participate in the return of the Boston Marathon.

But with so many activities planned that day, those looking to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day, or watch the road race as it passes through Newton on its way from Hopkinton to Boston, should plan ahead due to road closures connected with the marathon.

The marathon route along Washington Street and Commonwealth Avenue in Newton will be closed from 7 a.m. to about 6 p.m. Oct. 11, Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said in a statement.


Parking will be prohibited from midnight to 6 p.m. on Oct. 11 along the entire marathon route in Newton, while the parking restrictions include carriage lanes and sections of the streets feeding onto the race course, according to Fuller.

Newton also will be hosting events honoring Indigenous peoples, including at City Hall beginning at 8 a.m., with a gathering of representatives from federally recognized tribes, according to the Indigenous Peoples Day Newton committee, which helped advocate for the new holiday.

Fuller will host a ceremony in which local tribal leaders from the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah, Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe, Narragansett Indian Tribe, Nipmuc Nation, and Shinnecock Indian Nation will honor five historic indigenous winners of the Boston Marathon, according to a statement from the committee.

A ceremonial celebration at Albemarle Park will run from noon to 5 p.m. and feature music, artists, speakers, performers, food, and vendors, the group said in a statement Monday.

“IPD Newton is proud and honored to bring so many Indigenous artists, leaders, elders into one space for the first time,” the group said.

Last November, Newton’s City Council voted to replace the Columbus Day holiday following a longstanding debate over Columbus’s treatment of Indigenous people after arriving in the Americas in 1492 from Spain.


The holiday remains Columbus Day in most of Massachusetts, and the Boston Athletic Association chose Oct. 11 to hold the 125th running of the Boston Marathon after postponing the event from its usual April due to the pandemic.

The Indigenous Peoples Day Newton committee had criticized scheduling the marathon on Oct. 11.

Late last month, the BAA apologized for running the race on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and will honor Ellison “Tarzan” Brown, a member of Rhode Island’s Narragansett tribe who won the race twice during the 1930s, according to the Associated Press.

In a statement Monday, the Newton Indigenous peoples’ organization said it “had the opportunity to steer the BAA towards Indigenous acknowledgment with opening prayer, land acknowledgment, and Indigenous runner recognition as a part of this year’s marathon.”

John Hilliard can be reached at