‘Indigenous Day is every day’: Community celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day; events to continue at Haskell, KU throughout the week

photo by: Rochelle Valverde

People gather at Haskell Indian Nations University on Oct. 11, 2021, to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day.

Speakers urged those gathered on Monday for Indigenous Peoples Day to be proud and know that their culture is important every day.

Students from Haskell Indian Nations University, the University of Kansas and members of the community gathered Monday on Haskell’s campus for an event that included food, music, handgames and three speakers. Haskell’s Student Government Association and KU’s First Nations Student Association will continue to host events throughout the week to honor the culture of Native people as part of Indigenous Peoples Day celebration week.

Speaking to the crowd gathered under a tent in a grassy area of Haskell’s campus on Monday evening, FNSA Co-Chair Myltin Bighorn noted the recent presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples Day — the first ever.

“It should have been done a long time ago, and we should all be proud of where we come from, our communities and our tribe,” Bighorn said.

photo by: Rochelle Valverde

First Nations Student Association Co-Chair and KU cheerleader Myltin Bighorn speaks during a celebration for Indigenous Peoples Day at Haskell Indian Nations University on Oct. 11, 2021.

Bighorn, who is also a KU cheerleader, said he always had his braids in and was glad to represent his culture at KU and correct stereotypes as he confronted them. He said he started his higher education at Haskell and would not be where he was without the school, and he urged the students to stick with their education and keep breaking barriers.

“I know it’s going to be easy to give up, but my advice to all you is just keep pushing,” Bighorn said. “There is going to be those hard days where you want to quit, where you just want to go home and give up, but you know home is always going to be there.”

Lawrence indigenous artist Mona Cliff, who was one of the artists commissioned for the renovation of the Kansas City airport, also spoke briefly about her art, which she described as contemporary art using beadwork.

“I’m just making art and trying to uplift our native people,” Cliff said.

Cliff earned the prestigious honor of having her art selected to adorn a wall of the new $1.5 billion Kansas City airport, as the Journal-World recently reported. Earlier this year she was also selected to create a site-specific installation for the newly renovated Kansas City Museum, 3218 Gladstone Blvd., in Kansas City, Mo. In Lawrence, her mural “Natives Now” was part of the East Ninth Street Public art project and consists of several panels on the building at 1045 Pennsylvania St.

Haskell allowed some students to live on campus again beginning this semester, following a year of remote learning due to the coronavirus pandemic. Manny King, a counselor at Haskell, recognized that students were a long way from home and urged them to stay connected and look out for one another as they got to know Lawrence. King ended his comments by saying it was great to see everyone gathered, and told them to be proud.

“Indigenous Day is every day — every day,” King emphasized. “So be proud.”

photo by: Haskell SGA

A Haskell SGA flyer provides details about events for Indigenous Peoples Day celebration week.

Events at Haskell for Indigenous Peoples Day celebration week will continue through Friday and include frybread making, ribbon skirt/shirt day, beaded jewelry/moccasins day, and an event with s’mores, music and stories on Friday. More information is available on Haskell SGA’s Facebook page.

KU’s First Nations Student Association will also hold events throughout the week, including a tipi raising and a virtual lecture by Joshuaa Allison-Burbank on cultural competency, decolonization and indigenous knowledge systems on Wednesday, a celebration at the Sabatini Multicultural Resource Center on Thursday, and the tipi takedown on Friday. More details are available on the FNSA’s Facebook page.

photo by: FNSA

A flyer created by the First Nations Student Association provides details about events for Indigenous Peoples Day celebration week.

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