Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day–and the Indigenous members of our community
October 11, 2021
Dear CSU Community,
Today is Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which we are celebrating on our campus and around the country with events that recognize the achievements, the talents, and the lived experiences of Indigenous people—artists, scholars, activists, teachers, and leaders. And importantly, last Friday President Biden issued a formal proclamation recognizing this day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, to be observed “with all appropriate ceremonies and activities.” I encourage everyone to read the proclamation in full, as it articulates the need to set historical records straight regarding Indigenous experiences in our country and to recognize, celebrate, and work alongside Indigenous people today and going forward.
Today at 5:30 p.m., our CSU community invites everyone to join a virtual celebration on Zoom of local Indigenous writer, singer/songwriter, and motivational speaker Tanaya Winder (she/her/hers). On Thursday from 6:00-7:30 pm, Yufna Soldier Wolf will share her story of repatriating three children from the Carlisle Indian School under the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act on Zoom. I hope many of you will put these events on your calendars and join.
We are proud to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day at CSU and proud of those at CSU who work to highlight the achievements, concerns, and priorities of our Indigenous community members. Our Native American Cultural Center plans robust programs for students all year and is the sponsoring entity for Tanaya Winder’s event today. In the next few weeks, they will be releasing a list of scheduled events to celebrate Native American Heritage Month.
Our Native American Advisory Council, which regularly advises me and other university leaders, is currently focused on creating a permanent structure for our institutional engagement with tribes across Colorado and on the national conversation about land-grant universities’ responsibility to Indigenous students and tribes.
Meanwhile, across the CSU community, Native American and Indigenous experts and experiences are centered in our classrooms, our labs, our fieldwork, our research, and our community. Indigenous faculty and staff participate in consultation, engagement, recruitment, research, and K-12 outreach locally and nationally. In some of their recent work, they have
- created a minor in Indigenous studies;
- partnered with communities to examine climate;
- worked to address the health of humans, animals and the environment;
- brought Indigenous viewpoints to CSU Student Media;
- curated an art exhibit at the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art;
- chaired a nationally representative study for American Indian/Alaska Native education;
- published about Indigenous Peoples Day, and
- will speak publicly about the legal and moral imperatives of American Indian Education.
Our Indigenous faculty are committed to teaching and engagement, which happens every day on our campus, rather than just on Indigenous Peoples’ Day or Native American Heritage month.
We have a new sense of optimism now that the President of the United States has recognized the invaluable contributions Indigenous people have made throughout our history and recommitted to tribal sovereignty and a respect for Indigenous rights. But as many of you from across CSU already know, we have a lot of work to do in addressing issues and priorities that Indigenous people in our own community and across the country have identified as urgent and important.
As I hope even this brief message demonstrates, we are doing that work, and we are taking positive actions that will make demonstrable differences.