SOU celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day with annual event

ASHLAND, Ore. – Today is Indigenous Peoples Day and for the first time since 2019, Southern Oregon University hosted its annual celebration on campus.

Since 2016, SOU has observed Indigenous Peoples Day.

Tribe members, professors and students all gathered to celebrate the history and culture of indigenous peoples.

“Indigenous Peoples day is a recognition cultural sovereignty among all nations across turtle island,” event coordinator Lupe Sims said. “We come together to recognize all of our ancestors, all of those who are currently with us, and all of those who have come before us.”

Sims played a role in getting both SOU and the city of Ashland to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day.

The event outside Stevenson Union, featured tribe members sharing stories and re-connecting with the community.

A huge part of the celebration was a salmon bake, which is a traditional food for tribes, that was provided as lunch.

Chance White-Eyes, an assistant professor of Native American studies at SOU, said it was important to have an event like this to say thanks to people.

“This is a way to give back,” he said. “This is a way to give thanks not only the people, though food but having a moment to shake hands and say thank you for helping us out with that event last week. Or, thank you for that program or lecture or whatever.”

Beyond this event, SOU plans to recognize ingenious peoples with a garden.

The “Shasta Takelma Learning Garden” will be an outdoor classroom, dedicated to growing and learning about indigenous foods and plants.

SOU will be working with tribes to put the learning center together in the next few years.

Sims believes the school is doing more than just celebrating indigenous people for a day.

“This institution is recognizing indigenous peoples as they should be, as everyone else,” she said. “It’s recognizing the hard work out indigenous faculty and administration do.”

SOU also plans to formally recognize nine Oregon tribes with a permanent display of nine tribal nations flags at a central location on campus, later next year.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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