By Jacqueline Schram, director of Public Affairs and special assistant for Native American Affairs
It is possible that some still do not know of the thriving Indigenous communities that occupied every ecosystem in North America for thousands of years before others anchored off its shores. It is even more likely that some still may not comprehend the Indigenous resilience after the press of unimaginable pressures to slip away without response.
The recognition of Indigenous Peoples Day is a stirring interruption of a one-sided historical narrative and provides many moments throughout the day to reflect upon the feat that America’s first peoples are still here.
For some time, Indigenous peoples have been resisting the laudatory profile of heroes not their own. The efforts were resonant. In 1990, South Dakota was the first to make the second Monday of October an official remembrance of Native American contributions to their state.
More locally, Milwaukee County would follow suit in 2017 when it recognized “Indigenous Peoples Day” after taking up a resolution drafted by Indian Community School fourth grade students. Just this month, the school would serve as the site of Wisconsin’s declaration to honor the significance of the state’s Native nations on this day, Oct. 14, 2019, as Indigenous Peoples Day.
The reckoning of schools, school districts, higher education institutions, cities, counties and states across the country with the dark history of Indigenous peoples moved from tidal eddies to a sea change.
By acknowledging and honoring this part of history, a more just and authentic representation of the Indigenous story on these lands is etched. It is a healing reminder that we are all bounded together as humans and that so much is possible from that relationship.
From an Indigenous perspective, we refer to this as “all our relations” in the reverential acknowledgment that everything is connected and that we should respect each other not just today, but every day that the blessed sun rises.
Related content: We Are Marquette podcast, Episode 52: Indigenous Ways of Knowing