Indigenous Peoples’ Day recognized

Indigenous+Peoples+Day+recognized

Cameryn Cass

The Board of Trustees unanimously voted to endorse Indigenous Peoples’ Day (IPD) on Feb. 14, and created a committee that will organize a celebration to honor Native American people, which is hoped to be finalized at the July meeting.

The Board will collaborate with the Center for Native American Studies, the Native American Students Association and Associated Students of NMU to finalize the dates and what the celebration will entail. Although this decision is not yet official, it affirms NMU’s desire to have a celebration for indigenous peoples, chair of the Board of Trustees Steve Mitchell said.

In 2017, the Board refused to vote to replace Columbus Day with IPD, so for supporters of IPD, this is a step in the right direction. Native American Studies professor Martin Reinhardt recognized this is hardly a new issue, as people on campus and in the community, especially student volunteers, have been recognizing this holiday long before the Board endorsed it. 

 “Colonization has been a very serious issue for a long time. The idea of Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a response to colonization has been around since the mid to late 1970s,” Reinhardt said. 

Although, with this recent endorsement of the holiday by the Board, Reinhardt recognizes the significance of the higher-ups in the university supporting this idea.  

“It’s been a long road, and making sure everyone was on board was our goal, so it was good news. We say ‘meegwetch,’ thank you, for breaking this news to us,” said Reinhardt. 

IPD is usually celebrated in lieu of Columbus Day, which traditionally celebrates the discovery of America, when in reality, there were already people living here: the Native Americans. Celebrating IPD instead of this commemorates the natives, Reinhardt said.

“Do you have to be indigenous to appreciate Indigenous Peoples Day? I think that some people feel that because they are not indigenous, it really has little to do with them. But I think it has everything to do with all of us,” said Reinhardt. “We are a nation built on the lands of indigenous people. The doctrine of discovery is a misnomer. We were already here, this is our land.” 

A current Native Americans studies student and Marquette City Commissioner Andrew Lorinser is also excited about this “step towards unity,” as Lorinser put it. 

“It [IPD] ultimately encourages healing from a problematic history of violence and oppression,” Lorinser said. “I hope this decision impacts NMU in broadening awareness across campus and throughout the city.”

The Board aims to find an “inclusive way” of celebrating IPD, as Mitchell put it. NMU was the first university in the nation to offer a major in Native American studies, and it is hoped by the board that creating this committee furthers NMU’s inclusivity of all people.