Sixth official observance includes recognition of Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes
The annual Indigenous Peoples Day celebration at Southern Oregon University returns Monday, Oct. 9. Indigenous Peoples Day amplifies Indigenous voices and celebrates the historic, cultural and contemporary presence of Indigenous peoples and tribal nations, who have persevered in the protection of Indigenous rights and cultural sovereignty, and continue to make significant contributions to the world, according to a university news release.
SOU alumna Lupe Sims — a descendant of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, and adoptive daughter of Mark and Felcia McNair of The Klamath Tribes — partnered with the university’s Diversity and Inclusion Oversight Committee in 2016 to petition for recognition of Indigenous sovereignty. Formal observation by the university was declared in June 2017, and the Ashland City Council voted two months later to follow suit.
This year’s celebration — the sixth official observation of Indigenous Peoples Day by SOU and the city of Ashland — begins at 11 a.m. with a salmon bake on SOU’s Stevenson Union Courtyard (plates are $8 cash only, no charge for elders). Sims, who is coordinating this year’s celebration, will deliver opening acknowledgements, followed by an honor song by host drum Screaming Eagle (the Jackson family of Klamath Falls), who were present at the first formal Indigenous Peoples Day event in 2017.
David West, a citizen of Potawatomi Nation and director emeritus of the Native American Studies department at SOU, will deliver the opening prayer and Ed Little Crow (Lakota and Dakota) will offer a traditional meal blessing. SOU Provost Susan Walsh will read a land acknowledgement, and SOU President Rick Bailey and Jonathan Chavez-Baez, the interim assistant vice president for the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, will share remarks during the formal flag dedication.
The celebration will continue with remarks from tribal elders, including: Oregon State Rep. Tawna Sanchez, D-Portland (Shoshone-Bannock, Ute, and Carrizo); Terry Cross, member of the Seneca Nation and founder and senior advisor of the National Indian Child Welfare Association; and Shane Lopez-Johnston, member of the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation, who will represent Native American Rehabilitation Association Northwest.
The speakers will address continued stewardship of voices for equality within — and in support of — Indigenous communities.
SOU student-driven initiatives during the event will include a formal dedication of Oregon’s nine federally recognized tribes, to be led by West and Little Crow, with appointed tribal council and/or tribal community member dignitaries from each of the nine tribes.
The Klamath Tribes Youth Council will share a cultural presentation and community round dance, and stand in support of tribal youth presenting from the Ashland School District’s Native American Student Union. Children’s cultural activities will also be available in the Stevenson Union ASSOU center.
The student-led projects represent progress SOU has made in the past six years toward honoring the stewardship of the protection of Indigenous cultural sovereignty.
Everyone is welcome and will have the opportunity to gather in community, and stand in solidarity, with Indian country and Native/AI/LatinX Indigenous peoples.