In Recognition of Indigenous Peoples' Day

President Jim Johnsen

Since 2017, the University of Alaska has proudly supported Indigenous Peoples’ Day with culturally relevant events, 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 people and acknowledges how Indigenous knowledge has enhanced, and will continue to influence, educational opportunities provided across the UA system.

As you participate in these events and celebrate the unique cultures of Alaska’s Indigenous people, I encourage you to take the time to re-examine what you have been taught to believe about our history, so that together we can celebrate the resilience and strength of Alaska’s Native cultures. This is more than just a celebration; it is a statement of solidarity with Alaska’s Native people.

I also encourage you to learn more about land acknowledgement. Many of our meetings and gatherings now begin with acknowledgement of the Indigenous inhabitants who have long called this land their home. Endeavor to learn the names of the local Indigenous populations who for millennia have been stewards of the land where we now learn and work and share new discoveries, so that you may recognize their connection with the land. It’s a simple, powerful way of showing respect. It’s also an important step toward celebrating the true history of Alaska’s Native people and beginning down a path of healing and reconciliation.

While we cannot change our past, we can change our present, and together build a future replaced by respect and opportunity. We must, and will, all do our part to celebrate Alaska Native history and culture and commit to a better future for us all.

Best Regards,

Jim Johnsen
President, University of Alaska