UA universities and community campuses celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Oct. 14

The University of Alaska is on the forefront of a national movement among universities, including Harvard and the University of Utah, to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day rather than Columbus Day. 

The decision for UA universities and campuses to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day was unanimously supported with resolutions from students, staff and faculty groups across the system. In 2017, University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen asked each campus to host a culturally relevant event, incorporating elements of the Indigenous history of place, culture and language associated with their regions. 

The unanimous support for this special day acknowledges the contributions of Alaska Native peoples, and acknowledges how Indigenous knowledge has enhanced, and will continue to influence, the educational opportunities provided across the UA system.

This year’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrations will be held on October 14. In the coming week, UA campuses will send out more information about events honoring Alaska Native people, culture and knowledge. Here is information about some of the planned Indigenous Peoples Day events:

The University of Alaska Anchorage will be hosting a series of brown bag presentations by experts on Indigenous issues. Native Student Services is hosting a potluck, a gathering of Alaska Native and Native American Indigenous peoples to celebrate their traditions as they move forward in the footsteps of their ancestors. More information will be posted on the UAA Alaska Native Studies website and Facebook page. 

The University of Alaska Fairbanks will be hosting panels that honor Alaska Native people, culture and Indigenous knowledge. The day’s events begin with a site blessing at Troth Yeddha’ Park. Following the blessing ceremony, attendees will walk to Wood Center for opening remarks and sharing of a traditional foods lunch. All events are free and open to the public.

The University of Alaska Southeast Sitka campus is hosting a free community Indigenous People's Day event from 6 to 8:30 p.m in room 229 of the campus building. The program features a presentation and discussion on the history of Indigenous People's Day plus local efforts that support racial equity and inclusion. 

The first half focuses on food, history and celebration and the second is a mini workshop on decolonization. Some food, supplies and door prizes donated by sponsoring organizations are available. Participants can take a dish to share as well as a personal plate, bowl and utensils. For more information contact Tina Bachmeier at (907) 747-3470. 

UAS Ketchikan is hosting an open house from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the campus’s library. The event will feature local Alaska Native foods, art and culture. The event is free and open to the public. UAS’s Juneau campus is highlighting the work of one of their students, Alyssa Madrid, Alutiiq name, Uswitusqaq, who will debut her talk show "The Potluck Podcast."  The topic for the first episode is Indigenous Peoples' Day.