Sometimes the indigenous students on the UO campus can feel a little invisible. Less than one percent of UO students are officially listed as American Indian or Alaska Native, and while the federal government celebrates Columbus Day — a holiday students like Ada Ball of the Native American Student Union (NASU) find offensive — Native Americans and their contributions aren’t widely recognized.
NASU has already been celebrating Indigenous Solidarity Day to call attention to the colonization and genocide of indigenous groups and also to celebrate the contributions and talents of Native Americans. But this year Ball and other members of the student group decided to make it bigger and Indigenous Solidarity Week, Oct. 14-18, was born.
Ball, a UO senior and member of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, says there are not a lot of events on campus specifically for the indigenous and that conversations about decolonization don’t happen much in Eugene. Indigenous Solidarity Week will bring together indigenous speakers and performers from the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
The week kicks off with a decolonization rally at the EMU noon to 3 pm Monday, Oct. 14, followed by a free salmon feed sponsored by the Klamath tribes at 4 pm in the Many Nations Longhouse. The week as a whole, and the salmon feed in particular, is a welcome and welcome back event for students, faculty, alumni, community members and allies. In addition to hip-hop performers including Tribal Thought (Kayla Godowa-Tufti) and Quese IMC at 7 pm Oct. 18 in the EMU Ballroom, the week’s events will also address environmental issues with speakers such as Chief Caleen Sisk of the Winnemum Wintu. There will also be a panel on indigenous languages, which Ball says are “the first things to go when assimilation policies are implemented.”
She says that the events are outreach to non-native people as well as to indigenous students and campus members who aren’t aware of NASU. According to the UO admissions website, there are 171 American Indian or Alaska Natives on campus, but that count only allows people to check off one ethnic affiliation, so a student cannot be listed as both Native American and Hispanic.