Tag Archive for: Native American

Indigenous Peoples Day returns to SOU

SOU commemoration of Indigenous Peoples Day returns as in-person event

(Ashland, Ore.) — The annual Indigenous Peoples Day celebration at Southern Oregon University is returning as an in-person event on Monday, Oct. 10. 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.

SOU’s president announced in 2016 that the university would observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day after alumna Lupe Sims, a descendant of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, partnered with the university’s Diversity and Inclusion Oversight Committee to petition for recognition of Indigenous sovereignty. Formal observation by SOU was declared in June 2017, and  the Ashland City Council voted two months later to follow suit.

This year’s celebration – the fifth official observation of Indigenous Peoples’ day by SOU and the city of Ashland – will begin at 11 a.m. with a salmon bake in SOU’s Stevenson Union Courtyard (plates are $8, 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 SOU Provost Susan Walsh will read a Land Acknowledgment. SOU President Rick Bailey and SOU professor and former Ashland City Councilor Dennis Slattery will read declarations on behalf of SOU and the city of Ashland. Musician, traditional dancer and SOU Native Nations Liaison Brent Florendo (Wasco Band of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs) – will honor those recognitions with a hand drum song and will lead a community round dance.

The day’s events will continue with Indigenous advocacy at 12:30 p.m. in the Stevenson Union’s Rogue River Room, led by Tribal citizens including Elder and traditional ecologist and practitioner Joe Scott (Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and Takelma); Dan Wahpepah (Anishinabe, Kickapoo, and Sac and Fox); Rowena Jackson (Klamath Tribes); Chauncey Peltier, (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and Fort Totten Sioux); and Antonio Bonilla (Afro-Taino). Tribal Elders West and Ed Little Crow (Lakota and Dakota) will hold an Elder discussion that is open to the community. Elder Mark Colson (Chehalis, Yurok and Dakota) will speak about Indigeneity and healing within Indian country in the present. Michele Pavilonis, of Lenape descent, will lead a Medicine Wheel Healing Support Group – a talking circle for finding and keeping balance – during the day’s events on SOU campus. The support group will be held in honor of breath and heartbeat.

SOU student-driven initiatives during this event include a formal recognition of the nine federally recognized Oregon Tribes and the continuing relationship between SOU and Indian country. That recognition will be in preparation for a permanent display and dedication of the flags of the nine Tribal Nations at a central location on campus in the upcoming year.

The Shasta Takelma Learning Garden working group, which is part of a larger Indigenous Gardens Network – a hub for Indigenous-led land projects centering on First Foods, land stewardship, educational opportunities and habitat restoration – will share about their place-making collaboration with the Siletz Tribes and Grand Ronde Tribes.

The student-led projects represent progress that has been made in the past five years toward SOU honoring the stewardship 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/Indigenous peoples. This is as drug- and alcohol-free event.


SOU has adopted a land acknowledgement

SOU adopts “land acknowledgement”

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has adopted an acknowledgement that the SOU campus lies on the ancestral homelands of the area’s Native American tribes, who were removed through a series of actions by Euro-American settlers and the U.S. government, beginning in the mid-1800s.

The formal “land acknowledgement” was developed by staff representatives of the Grand Ronde and Siletz tribes, and Brook Colley, chair of SOU’s Native American Studies Program.

“In our desire for collective healing and partnership, we offer this Acknowledgment of Indigenous peoples and their connections, rights and responsibilities to the land that Southern Oregon University occupies,” developers of the statement said on the SOU website where it is found.

The full and unabridged land acknowledgement may be read at meetings or gatherings on the SOU campus, and the land acknowledgement website – whose text and images were approved by representatives of the two tribes – may be linked to from other university web pages.

SOU’s complete land acknowledgement is:

“We want to take this moment to acknowledge that Southern Oregon University is located within the ancestral homelands of the Shasta, Takelma, and Latgawa peoples who lived here since time immemorial. These Tribes were displaced during rapid Euro-American colonization, the Gold Rush, and armed conflict between 1851 and 1856. In the 1850s, discovery of gold and settlement brought thousands of Euro-Americans to their lands, leading to warfare, epidemics, starvation, and villages being burned. In 1853 the first of several treaties were signed, confederating these Tribes and others together – who would then be referred to as the Rogue River Tribe. These treaties ceded most of their homelands to the United States, and in return they were guaranteed a permanent homeland reserved for them. At the end of the Rogue River Wars in 1856, these Tribes and many other Tribes from western Oregon were removed to the Siletz Reservation and the Grand Ronde Reservation. Today, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians are living descendants of the Takelma, Shasta, and Latgawa peoples of this area. We encourage YOU to learn about the land you reside on, and to join us in advocating for the inherent sovereignty of Indigenous people.”


Boarding School art display at SOU

Boarding School Healing project comes to SOU

SOU’s Native American Student Union and Native American Studies program are working together to honor and recognize the victims of 150 years of residential and boarding school assimilation and erasure practices by hosting an interactive art display at various campus locations. The display – currently inside the Stevenson Union – is intended to bring awareness and education to the Boarding School Healing project.

The display of keepsakes and artifacts is available for viewing from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays through the summer. It will be installed at other locations around campus through fall and winter terms.

Chance White Eyes, an assistant professor of Native American Studies at SOU, will also teach a fall term course (NAS 360) on “Boarding School Legacies.” The class will offer Native American perspectives on the practices of Indian Boarding Schools in the U.S. and Canada, along with current practices in Indian education.

“The community is encouraged to add their own prayers, keepsake or item,” said an announcement of the display from the Native American Student Union.

“This is a first step in healing for the indigenous, Native American and Alaskan Native communities.”

A memo in June from U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland described the federal government’s attempts to forcibly assimilate indigenous cultures beginning with the Indian Civilization Act of 1819 and continuing through the 1960s. Indigenous children were taken from their families and relocated to distant residential facilities, where their Native identities, languages and beliefs were suppressed and parents could not visit. Many died of abuse and were buried in unmarked graves.

Resources for those who are struggling with recent disclosures about the practices of former Native American boarding schools are available through the Native American Student Union, which is part of SOU’s Multicultural Coalition, or the Native American Studies program.

"All My Relations" is a virtual spin-off program for Native youth and families

SOU retreat for Native American youth spins off multigenerational program

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University’s Konaway Nika Tillicum wasn’t what anyone expected last summer, when the seven-day academic and cultural enrichment residential camp for Native American Youth was shifted to a virtual version of itself because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Then the totally unexpected happened: the Oregon Community Foundation, a longtime supporter of the Konaway program, reached out to its organizers at SOU to find out if there were any plans to continue supporting pre-college Native youth in Oregon at the conclusion of the one-week program. Serious conversations began, the foundation offered a new $50,000 grant and a virtual offshoot program for Konaway students and their family members was born.

“All My Relations” – the English translation of the Chinook Trade Jargon phrase, “Konaway Nika Tillicum” – was launched on Oct. 28 with seven students and has rapidly grown to include more than 33 students and their families in six states. There are currently 19 students from seven Oregon counties in the program. Another eight participants live along the Oregon border in Washington or California and have tribal connections to the region. The program runs through fall, winter and spring terms, offering biweekly, virtual longhouse gatherings to provide academic encouragement and support, and discuss everything from beading moccasin ornaments to traditional story-telling to maintaining cultural identity during a pandemic.

“It was clear that students and families were hungry for this kind of connection and assistance, and when we were approached by OCF it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get something going,” said Katherine Gosnell, assistant director of youth programs at SOU.

“OCF is keenly aware of the disproportionate impacts of COVID on Native communities and were seeking ways to address the situation,” said Rachel Jones, SOU’s director of outreach and engagement. “We shared with OCF the wish list of ideas that the Konaway team had created during the virtual Konaway, for ways that we could continue working with the students.”

Jones and her staff put together an outline and projected cost for the program, and the foundation backed the proposal with a quick-turnaround grant.

“It was a great testament to OCF’s exceptional role across the state during this challenging year – they were extremely responsive, had a quick turnaround and eliminated lengthy application processes,” Jones said.

All My Relations was originally seen as a one-time project, but has now transitioned into a pilot for what organizers hope will be an ongoing program to support and enhance the original Konaway residential offerings. Organizers at SOU are seeking additional funding through grants and donations from foundations, organizations and individuals to support a second year of All My Relations beginning in fall 2021.

“Not only are we serving Native American Youth but we are serving their families, their friends, and their communities as well,” said Tamara Ellington, an SOU adjunct instructor and residential coordinator for the Konaway program.

“We have students that join with their parents, their foster parents, their closest trusting neighbors with good internet connectivity, their cousins, their friends, and their elders,” she said. “This is truly a multigenerational program modeled and influenced by the original Konaway Nika Tillicum Native American Youth Academy.”


SOU to observe Indigenous Peoples Day

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.