NMU celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ Day


Katarina Rothhorn/NW

SONGS OF AGENCY – The Native American Student Association celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day this Monday, Oct. 10 with keynote speakers and ceremonial drum songs. The event concluded with a walk to the Whitman Fire Site where Morning Thunder performed a drum song.

Dreyma Beronja, News Editor

Northern Michigan University celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Monday, Oct. 10. The celebration began at 10 a.m. in front of the Land Acknowledgment Sign outside of the McClintock Building.

There were five speakers in total who spoke on the holiday, including NMU Interim President Kerri Schuiling, who spoke first.

“Today we honor the many contributions of Native Americans,” Schuiling said. “Indigenous Peoples’ Day honors the past, present and future of Native peoples throughout the U.S. Today’s holiday recognizes [the] legacy and the impact of colonialism on Native communities.”

Indigenous Peoples’ Day was instituted in 1992 to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Columbus in the Americas on Oct. 12, 1492. In 1994, Santa Cruz, California instituted the holiday. Beginning in 2014, many other cities and states adopted the holiday.

President Joe Biden became the first U.S. president to formally commemorate the holiday with presidential proclamation on Oct. 8, 2021. Last year was also when NMU’s Land Acknowledgement Sign was placed.

“I want to begin by recognizing the land we’re standing on as Anishinaabe-akiing,” Sophia Panek, president of the Native American Student Association, said. “This sign to my left acknowledges that fact.”

Panek continued by congratulating her brother, Bazile Panek, a previous NASA president who helped fight for the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day at NMU as a campus-wide holiday.

“He has fought tirelessly for NASA, and this sign is a symbol of one of the many things he has done,” Panek said. “So huge congratulations to my brother.”

Other speakers included Panek’s father, Damon Panek, who is a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, and April Lindala, professor of Native Studies at NMU.

Lindala spoke about all living beings being able to work together in order to learn the ways of respecting one another.

“That is what we are trying to say when we say we need to learn to walk together,” Lindala said. “It’s not merely locking arms as human beings. It’s locking arms with branches, with wings, with those with fins, those who creep and crawl, all of us together.”

The celebration concluded its morning ceremony with a reflection walk to the Fire Site near Whitman Commons where Morning Thunder finished with closing songs.

“I encourage you to make space in your time, in your own journey, in your own schooling, whether it be on this formal campus or in life somewhere else, [to] learn a little bit of Anishinaabemowin if you’re going to be in this territory,” Lindala said. “Learn a little bit so you can speak to those beings of the space, of this place that we gather, we live, we work, we play [in].”