Honoring Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Events will be celebrated virtually this year; in the past, there was a teepee on the Glenn Terrell Mall, Indigenous food



From left to right: Kyra Antone, MyKel Johnson and Jaissa Grunlose hold the proclamation to make Indigenous Peoples’ Day official at WSU in 2018. The decision came after extensive efforts made by Indigenous students, and the idea of an Indigineous Peoples’ Day has been around since the ‘70s.

ANDREA GONZALEZ, Evergreen reporter

WSU’s Office of Tribal Relations and Native American Programs will celebrate the third annual Indigenous Peoples’ Day via Zoom with two presentations and a game night on Oct. 12. 

In 2018, WSU and the City of Pullman signed a proclamation, making the second Monday in October Indigenous Peoples’ Day, said Joelle Berg, WSU Native American Programs’ Native American retention specialist. 

This decision came after extensive efforts by Indigenous students.

Oftentimes, Indigenous people go unnoticed. Berg said Indigenous Peoples’ Day is important because it recognizes the first people in North America, highlighting the accomplishments of Indigenous people and bringing those accomplishments to the forefront, she said. 

Since the ‘70s, Indigenous people have been advocating for Indigenous Peoples’ Day, said Steven Martin, Native American Student Services director. 

Martin said Indigenous Peoples’ Day allows Native people to express themselves as they are and educate others about Indigenous people and events across the country. 

On Oct. 12, there will be three events held, Berg said. The first event will feature Professor Robert Miller from the Arizona State University Law School. He will talk about the Doctrine of Discovery, which European monarchs used to validate colonization, from 12:10-1:10 p.m.

Discussing the doctrine, which led to Manifest Destiny, is important because it will give the audience information about how Europeans were able to take what was not theirs, Martin said. The real history is often glossed over in the American education system.

He said he hopes non-Native audiences will gain a better understanding of who Native people are, why Indigenous Peoples’ Day is important and why it is wrong to glorify a “criminal” such as Christopher Columbus.

The second presentation is Indian Humor with speaker Steven Paul Judd. From 4-5 p.m., he will talk about his art and the work he has been doing, Berg said. Judd takes pop culture items, like comic books, and adds his own Native twist to them.

Martin said Judd is a contemporary artist who brings Native American imagery into modern stories.

Laughter is a common part of Native culture, Berg said. Native people are resilient. One coping mechanism is ‘Indian humor,’ which means to poke fun at a bad situation. People who are not Native may not understand the humor.

“I hope that people laugh as well. We don’t always have to be so serious about things we are trying to celebrate, and so I hope they do a little bit of both,” Berg said. “There is a little bit of learning and a little bit of laughing and having fun.”

Afterward, Virtual Game Night will occur from 5-6 p.m., she said. To come together and build a sense of community is part of being Native.

An in-person celebration would have included a teepee on the campus mall, Indigenous food at the dining halls and a keynote speaker like in previous years, Berg said.

She said putting together the events online meant Native American Programs could get speakers from across the country that it otherwise would not have been able to.

“Our goal is to have a stronger connection to the WSU community, allow an opportunity to have a moment to share who we are, allow our students to be able to express themselves, have a better connection and celebrate a day with honor,” Martin said.