UI students rally for Indigenous Peoples Day on the Pentacrest

The Native American Student Association held a rally on the Pentacrest on Monday afternoon in honor of Indigenous Peoples Day.

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UI students rally for Indigenous Peoples Day on the Pentacrest

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Members of the Native American Student Association stood in solidarity for the rights of indigenous people during a rally Monday afternoon on the Pentacrest.

In celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day, speakers representing various Native American nations presented prayer, speeches, and poetry from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

The second Monday in October has been known as Columbus Day in the United States since 1970, but Monday’s rally sought to reflect on the indigenous people who have suffered as a result of colonialism. The rally also provided awareness for current issues affecting indigenous people and offered words of hope for the future.

Speeches at the rally discussed the importance of Indigenous Peoples Day for commemorating the history of the oppression of indigenous people while providing cultural opportunities and awareness.

“With Indigenous Peoples Day we’re talking about a culture that’s still thriving; we’re celebrating,” Native American Association President Xiomara Santana said. “We also hope to bring attention to the disparities that happen in the community.”

Since the day’s origin, there has been a nationwide trend of cities renaming Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day. On Oct. 3, the Iowa City City Council signed a proclamation declaring Oct. 9 Indigenous Peoples Day.

RELATED: Indigenous Peoples Day declared Oct. 9

“It didn’t hit me until the very end when Jessica Owens and I had the document in our hands,” Santana said. “It really means a lot that all of you stand with us in getting that recognized and accepting that Indigenous Peoples Day needs to happen. It’s important for all of us, not just indigenous people, to recognize the history — the real history — of the United States.”

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors also voted to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day on Oct. 3. The county proclamation was read aloud during the rally to cheers.

Part of the proclamation read, “Whereas Johnson County recognizes the genocide and opposes the systematic racism that is practiced toward indigenous peoples in the United States, which perpetuates high rates of poverty and income inequality, exacerbates disproportionate negative health education outcomes, and weakens social stability.”

Adriana Peterson, the Native American constituency senator in the University of Iowa Student Government, proposed her resolution to UISG on Oct. 3 to support the holiday. In her speech at the rally, she said the resolution passed with a 98 percent vote.

“We still have the city of North Liberty, the city of Coralville, and the state of Iowa,” Native Amerian Association adviser Tracy Peterson said during the rally. “In passing this resolution at City Council, [Rep. David Jacoby] made some comments to some of our student leaders here that said he was going to consult with them and write a resolution for the state of Iowa — which is huge.”

On Thursday, the Native American Association will hold an Indigenous Peoples Week feast at 6:30 p.m. at the Latino and Native American Cultural Center. The student organization is also working to promote the Missing, Murdered Indigenous Women online awareness campaign.

UI grad student Cinnamon Spear led a prayer at the rally.

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