Ellie Ocel/The Broadside
Indigenous students and educators finally have an opportunity to celebrate their sovereignty, presence, history and heritage at COCC.
COCC announced the decision to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day on September 13, 2021. Long in the making, this announcement meant that on the second Monday of October each year, the college would host events recognizing and celebrating indigenous peoples in Central Oregon and beyond.
“The idea to adopt Indigenous Peoples’ Day came from our Diversity Committee here at COCC,” Michelle Cary, COCC’s Native American Program coordinator, wrote in an email.
This idea led to a proposal, which was unanimously approved by COCC’s board of directors.
With COCC’s recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day came news of public events to come. The events, set to occur on Monday, October 11, will span from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
“We wanted the events to shed light on the negative impact Christopher Columbus had on Indigenous people, but also to celebrate the Native people here in our communities and the great things they are accomplishing today,” Cary wrote.
To begin the day, students and other interested parties can attend the “Land Acknowledgement Lecture & Discussion” over Zoom. The speaker for this event is Michelle Cary. This lecture and discussion will occur from 9-10:00 a.m. Use this link to join the Zoom call.
“I want to share with folks how [the land acknowledgement] was created, but more importantly, why it was created,” Cary wrote.
Next, visit the “Re-Discovering Columbus from a Native Perspective” workshop. From 12-1 p.m., work with Gabriann Hall, an indigenous woman and part-time faculty member in the World Languages department, to learn an indigenous perspective on federal boarding schools. This workshop will occur in Wille Hall on COCC’s Bend campus.
“I drastically scaled down the Columbus aspect of the workshop,” speaker Gabriann Hall wrote in an email, “I am going to be focusing on the federal boarding school issue, its history, and the current issues tribes are facing regarding healing our communities and repatriating the bodies of our members who died while in attendance at the schools.”
After Hall’s event, attend “Incorporating Indigenous Perspectives in the Classroom” with Kelsey Freeman. Freeman is the Native American College Prep coordinator here at COCC. Though geared towards educators, this event is open to everyone. Freeman believes the term educator applies to parents, teachers, and anyone else who has a role in influencing young people. This event will take place in Wille Hall from 4-5 p.m.
Freeman said she wants to help shift the narrative surrounding indigenous peoples, and assist educators in teaching a more nuanced version of indigenous affairs.
“Don’t learn about, learn from indigenous peoples,” Freeman said. She elaborated that native peoples are talked about as if they exist in the past, when in reality they are present and sovereign.
To conclude COCC’s first Indigenous Peoples’ Day, attend “The Columbus Controversy Video Screening & Discussion” with Michelle Cary. From 5:30-6:30 p.m., join Cary to watch and discuss The Columbus Controversy in Wille Hall.
“While Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a day to celebrate, it is also important to realize why so many states, cities, colleges, and universities choose to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day rather than Columbus Day,” Cary wrote.