University to Hold Events Celebrating Indigenous People's Day
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Native American Student Association and the Native American Symposium will celebrate Indigenous People’s Day with events scheduled for Monday, Oct. 14, and Wednesday, Oct. 16.
“When we observe Indigenous People’s Day, we recognize the truth about the European conquest and colonization of the Americas and its devastating effects on indigenous lives still today,” said Sean Kicummah Teuton, associate professor of English and indigenous studies at the University of Arkansas. “But Indigenous Peoples’ Day is also a day of celebration. Focusing only on the colonial past can deny indigenous people their right to the present.”
Two events will be held on Oct. 14 to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day. The first, a public reading of indigenous testimony and literature, will be held from 1-2 p.m. in the Arkansas Union Lounge. From 2-3 p.m., there will be a walk on the Arkansas Union Mall to commemorate the Trail of Tears.
“Centuries of conquest, genocide and forced removals of indigenous peoples led to the Trail of Tears in 1838,” Teuton said. “At least one route on this Trail of Tears passes through Fayetteville.”
On Oct. 16, the 20th annual Native American Symposium will be held at 8 p.m. in Giffels Auditorium in Old Main. It will consist of a screening and discussion of the film The Last of the Mohicans. The Native American Symposium is a forum for addressing current issues affecting Native Americans, along with recognizing their history and appreciating their culture.
Teuton says that recognizing injustices done to indigenous people of our past is important, but we must also acknowledge that indigenous people are creating a future for themselves.
“Many indigenous communities are thriving today,” he said. “They have robust economies, are buying back their land and are revitalizing their languages. Indigenous people hold U.S. government offices, study, create, and invent; play professional sports and act in movies. They live traditional lives all the while seeking to enjoy modern life like all of us.”
Teuton is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, which is headquartered in Tahlequah, Okla., 70 miles southeast of Tulsa.
“The Cherokee Nation bustles with growth,” he said. “The Cherokee Nation is one of the largest employers in Oklahoma and is at the forefront of indigenous language revitalization. Like other Indigenous nations, the Cherokee Nation seeks to govern itself as it always has, long before Columbus found his way to these shores.”
The Native American Student Association is part of the Center for Multicultural and Diversity Education in the university’s office of diversity affairs. The Center for Multicultural and Diversity Education provides academic, cultural and social programs intended to promote inclusiveness, foster achievement and assist in the development and advancement of a diverse student body.
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