NEWS RELEASE (available online at https://goo.gl/d0nv6L)
(Ashland, Ore.) — The contributions and cultural significance of Native American populations will be celebrated annually at Southern Oregon University when the campus begins observing Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday of October, beginning this year.
SOU President Linda Schott declared the university’s intention to observe Indigenous Peoples Day after student Lupe Sims and the Diversity and Inclusion Oversight Committee took the proposal to three governing boards on campus. The University Planning Board, Faculty Senate and Associated Students of Southern Oregon University each approved the request, which will result in a celebration similar to that of Veterans Day at SOU. No classes will be canceled, but the occasion will be observed through special programming.
“The indigenous cultures that have evolved in the Americas for millennia are certainly worthy of acknowledgement and have particular relevance to our state, in which nine sovereign tribes are recognized,” President Schott said. “SOU has a vibrant population of Native American students, and this celebration will honor the legacies of their families and ancestors.
“This will provide an excellent opportunity for all of our students to learn more about the non-European history of our region and our country.”
SOU joins several other universities, four states and at least 39 U.S. cities – including Portland, Eugene and Corvallis in Oregon – that observe Indigenous Peoples Day.
It is typically celebrated on the second Monday of October, which the U.S. has observed as the federal Columbus Day holiday since 1937.
At least 17 states – including Oregon – do not recognize Columbus Day as a holiday. Oregon observed it as a “day of commemoration” – but not a legal holiday – until the 1985 Legislature added a holiday for Martin Luther King Day, combined Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays as Presidents’ Day and eliminated all “days of commemoration.”
SOU’s Diversity and Inclusion Oversight Committee sought President Schott’s endorsement of the new Indigenous Peoples Day after gathering approvals from the three on-campus governing panels. A letter from the committee asked for a declaration of “our commitment to the inclusion of indigenous people’s perspectives and objectives as a central aspect of the university’s mission.”
The president said the day of celebration is consistent with SOU’s values of commitment to its students; intellectual growth; responsibility to the natural and social world; and inclusion, diversity and equity.
SOU offers a Native American Studies Program that seeks to educate all students about the knowledge, experiences and rich cultural heritage of indigenous people. The university also has an active Native American student population, supports SOU’s Native American Student Union and sponsors Konaway Nika Tillicum – an eight-day, on-campus residential camp for Native American youth.
About Southern Oregon University
As a public liberal arts university, SOU focuses on student learning, accessibility and civic engagement that enriches both the community and bioregion. The university is recognized for fostering intellectual creativity, for quality and innovation in its connected learning programs, and for the educational benefits of its unique geographic location. SOU was the first university in Oregon—and one of the first in the nation—to offset 100 percent of its energy use with clean, renewable power, and it is the first university in the nation to balance 100% of its water consumption. Visit sou.edu.