Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Contact: Olivia Munoz

Today is Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day gives us an opportunity to recognize the ongoing talents, contributions, and the lived experiences of Indigenous people and communities. It is a chance to move forward in an intentional way with the local community, emphasizing work that is informed and collaborative.

Just this past weekend on Oct. 7, the Hallie Ford Museum of Art rededicated a welcome figure, “Hayash-Man,” commissioned from Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde carver Bobby Mercier. Mercier is a well-known traditional carver who is dedicated to preserving the history of his ancestors through his art. The eight foot tall figure was welcomed to the museum in 2022 and is now sited in the museum lobby which, like the rest of Willamette University and the City of Salem, is built on Kalapuyan lands.

The community is invited to view the permanent exhibit, “Ancestral Dialogues: Conversations in Native American Art,” at the Hallie Ford Museum, which is celebrating 25 years with free admission during October and events into the year. “Ancestral Dialogues” features works from the museum’s permanent collection with a focus on native art history as a dynamic, rich legacy from which contemporary arts grow today.

Community connection work is also underway. In May, Emilio Solano (Assistant Provost for Institutional Equity) and Aspen Padilla (Director of Academic Support) attended the Higher Education Coordinating Commission’s Tribal Student Support Network meeting at Portland State University. The event, which had representatives from various federally recognized tribes of Oregon in attendance, was designed to develop a community of practice for higher education professionals that serve Tribal students.

Coming up in November, the office of Intercultural Engagement and Inclusion is working with a cross-campus committee on events for Native and Indigenous Peoples Month.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day was proclaimed by a U.S. president for the first time in 2021, naming Oct. 11 in commemoration. The day is typically observed on the second Monday of October. However, the fight for an Indigenous Peoples’ Day has been going on for much longer, prompted by grassroots efforts led by indigenous activists.

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