NMSU American Indian Programs celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day virtually

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Jason McNabb

American Indian Student programs celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day and the 10th anniversary of the American Indian Student Center.

New Mexico State University celebrated its second annual Indigenous People’ Day this year on Oct.12 with virtual events held throughout the day.

NMSU American Indian Programs welcomed virtual participants via Facebook last Monday to celebrate the holiday and learn throughout the week. The community was encouraged to join conversations with NMSU faculty members like Donald D. Pepion, P.h.D., and discussions such as the “History, Healing, and Celebration” Panel put on by Chicano Programs.

“Today is an important day that many people fought for on our campus and in our state, Indigenous Peoples Day,” a Facebook post by NMSU American Indian Programs read Oct. 12. “As many of us are away from campus in our home communities, we also want to be aware of many of the Tribal Communities and Organizations who will be providing offerings that reach a wider audience.”

Michael Ray, the director of American Indian Programs said that the celebrations and events were held to share various Native American cultural crosses and also acknowledge that many members of the community are not just one sole group, but rather a collective people that transpire and inspire all across the county.

“We want to acknowledge those who are more than just one aspect,” Ray said. “We have Anglo-Native American, Chicano Native Americans as well and gay native Americans – we are whole.”

Meant to celebrate and recognize the original inhabitants of North America, Indigenous Peoples Day replaced Columbus Day officially in April of 2019 following a bill passed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. NMSU has recognized the holiday since 2018, following a resolution passed by the Associated Students of NMSU.

Ray noted the holiday is significant to also teach beyond the classrooms of NMSU.

“We learn beyond that of a university – we must recognize who we first got this land from and the history behind that,” Ray said. “Full relocations of cultures came before NMSU was even a concept or before this land was still a part of Mexico.”

Additionally, Oct. 12 signified the 10th anniversary of the American Indian Student Center at NMSU.

In a video created by American Indian Programs last Monday, Ray noted the American Indian Student Center is a place where students can be students in an environment that reflects their culture.

“As you notice we don’t have necessarily just white walls on our campus. We wanted to make sure that the walls of this building reflect the state of New Mexico. You’ll see the fields of sage, you’ll see the brown dirt that’s all over our state, but also you’ll see the grey mountains and the red mountains that continually sprawl across our state of New Mexico,” Ray said.

The video is part of a series explaining the stages NMSU went through to provide the center for students.

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