SOU celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day

SOU observes Indigenous Peoples Day

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University’s second annual observation of Indigenous Peoples Day – and contributions and cultural significance of Native American populations – will take place on Monday, Oct. 8, beginning with a salmon bake celebration on the Stevenson Union courtyard.

The free salmon bake will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and will feature drumming and a variety of speakers. SOU President Linda Schott will welcome the salmon bake participants and discuss the university’s commitment to equity and inclusion, and its respect for the cultural richness its Native American students bring to campus.

The president authorized the observance of Indigenous Peoples Day after student Lupe Sims and the Diversity and Inclusion Oversight Committee got unanimous support for the proposal from three governing boards on campus in early 2017. No classes are canceled for the now-annual observation, but the occasion is observed through special programming and events.

Monday’s salmon bake will include presentations from guest speakers Ed Little Crow, Felicia McNair, David West, Brent Florendo, Chauncey Peltier, Mark Colson, Rowena Jackson and Shaun Taylor-Corbett.

A free lecture and discussion, “Earth Protectors: Indigenous Solidarity with the Earth, North and South,” will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Stevenson Union’s Rogue River Room. It will focus on indigenous peoples’ struggles against extractive industries throughout the Americas.

SOU is one of several universities, four states and about 40 U.S. cities – including Ashland, 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 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.