Arizona is home to one of the largest Native American populations in the United States.
To help honor the thousands of years of indigenous tradition and culture in our backyard, Arizona State University will celebrate its first university-wide Indigenous Peoples Day on Oct. 7.
ASU’s American Indian Council was the driving force behind expanding this celebration.
“USG (Undergraduate University Government) recently passed on all four campuses along with the Graduate Student Association to have an Indigenous Peoples Day,” said Megan Tom, president of the American Indian Council and a member of the Navajo Nation. “Before it was only on the Tempe campus.”
Recognizing the day university-wide was a win for the council.
“In the state of Arizona there are 27 recognized tribes,” said Tom. “We just want the ASU community to be more aware that everywhere they go there are indigenous people.”
Nationwide there has been a movement to replace Columbus Day, which this year falls on Oct. 10, with Indigenous Peoples Day. In recognition of that, but so students could participate in activities before fall break (Oct. 10-11), Oct. 7 was chosen.
“When we celebrate these cultures, including mine, that shows that the indigenous people are still here and still exist,” said Thomasina Dinehdeal, vice president of the American Indian Council and a member of the Navajo Nation.
The university-wide activities will represent the nearly 400 million indigenous people worldwide who come from 5,000 different cultures.
Students, faculty and staff are all welcome to learn more about these culture from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Tempe, Downtown Phoenix and West campuses. The Downtown Phoenix campus will also have another celebration from 11:30 to 1 p.m. on Oct. 10.
“Indigenous Peoples Day to me is about celebrating the lives of all people. It helps to bring awareness to and acknowledges the (at times) voiceless,” wrote Lorenzo Yazzie, American Indian Council Secretary and a member of the Navajo Nation. “With its passing, I’m happy that the university respects our existence.”
Various student organizations have collaborated to bring performances, arts and voices to the campus events.
“I am just a vessel for all those who have came before me, and I hold it my responsibility to share the knowledge that my ancestors have granted me with the ASU community,” Tom said.