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October 5, 2022: Looking Towards Indigenous Peoples' Day

From Dr. John Johnson, vice president for divesity and inclusion:

Four-Day is approaching. A valuable mid-semester break not available at most colleges, Four-Day allows time for processing and reflection, and opportunities to catch up on work or catch up on rest. Sleep debt is real y’all. As we head into this extended weekend, we want to remind everyone that when we return to campus on Monday it will be Indigenous Peoples’ Day. 

Indigenous Peoples’ Day calls on us to acknowledge the history and original stewards of the land and also serves as an important reminder of our individual relationships to the land. 

This past spring, the college partnered with indigenous leaders to erect a Long Tent on Ankeny Field. The Long Tent was a symbol to counter indigenous erasure and provided a space for learning from Native elders and experts. The Long Tent also represented, as one participant put it, “a commitment to tribal sovereignty.” 

Just prior to the Long Tent Opening Ceremony, the college signed a memorandum of agreement with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. The MOA is “intended to facilitate collaboration [between Whitman and CTUIR] on the development of curriculum with a focus on Native American Studies, and Native American education, recruitment, and retention efforts at Whitman.”

The Whitman College Advisory Council for Collaboration with the CTUIR (WCACCC) was created to oversee Whitman's responsibilities in accordance with the memorandum. As expressed in the MOA, 

  1. WHITMAN agrees to actively pursue funding opportunities for joint research efforts with the CTUIR on topics that are of mutual benefit.
  2. WHITMAN faculty, through the College's normal curriculum development processes, will work with CTUIR in developing courses, which may include areas such as local tribal history, CTUIR-specific history, and Sahaptin or other languages, as well as educational experiences such as new student orientation and service-learning trips.
  3. WHITMAN will seek to utilize qualified CTUIR staff as possible teachers of record.
  4. WHITMAN will work to enhance its Native American student support efforts and specifically work toward the development of a Native American student advisor, and increase efforts regarding Native American outreach, admissions, recruitment and retention, financial aid, academic advising, and internships.

Native scholar Dr. Cutcha Risling Baldy (Hupa, Yurok, Karuk) believes that our decolonization work should be guided by indigenous philosophies. Decolonization is not a metaphor and Indigenous Peoples’ Day is not a move to innocence, but an aperture for repair.

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