Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Portland

By Janea Melido | October 7, 2022 11:30am
Indigenous Peoples’ Day has replaced Columbus Day in Oregon. Here are some ways to celebrate the change.
Media Credit: Emma Sells / The Beacon

This Monday, Oct. 10, 2022, will officially commemorate the second year where Oregon recognizes the previously called Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. 

Columbus Day, which celebrates Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the Americas in 1492 sparks controversy because many Native American tribes were already inhabiting the land when he arrived.

Oregon, along with 10 other states officially celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day in replacement. The day is meant to commemorate Native Americans, their culture and history. In Oregon, there are nine federally recognized Native American tribes.

According to UP’s institutional data, there are less than 1% of Native American undergraduate students on campus. To these students, the change means a lot as it garners a sense of belonging that has been lost within their community. 

“It’s good to bring it up and shed light upon it because we’re already small in numbers,” Kamia Leano, Vice President of the Native American Alliance Club (NAAC) said. “It’s harder for us to come up because of imposter syndrome so I think changing it to Indigenous Peoples’ Day helps Indigenous people feel more comfortable and prideful.”

The holiday also creates a space for Indigenious people to be recognized, something that NAAC President Nia Moquino wants to emphasize. 

“I think it's important to remember the history, the actual history that happened and also to honor the Indigenous people living today,” Moquino said. “We're still striving and resilient and we're still going just to get that out there, that awareness to other people.”

Despite that initial feeling of acceptance, there are more things that UP can do to create a more inclusive space.

“We want any type of awareness,” Leano said. “Just [administration] educating themselves and with that education actually implementing it inside the administration system.” 

While there aren’t any events on campus commemorating the holiday, Leano and Moquino both suggest that the UP community take their time educating themselves on Native American history as well as uplifting Indigenous communities in the area. 

Here is a list of ways/events one can partake in to celebrate the holiday: 

Indigenous Peoples’ Day “Barbie’s Village: Meet and Greet”

When: Monday, Oct. 10 from 4-8 p.m.

Where: 935 NE 33rd Ave, Portland, OR. 97232

What: A marketplace with Native American vendors, building tours and Native American activist Mark Charles as a guest speaker.

Native American art exhibit 

When: Weekly on Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR 96205

What: Collection of Native American Art to “honor the Indigenous peoples of this region whose ancestral lands the museum now stands.”

Supporting Native American Vendors

Portland’s Indigenous marketplace has a list of vendors that can be seen through this link

University of Portland’s land acknowledgement 

“We acknowledge the land on which we sit and which we occupy at the University of Portland. ‘The Portland Metro area rests on traditional village sites of the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin, Kalapuya, Molalla, and many other tribes who made their homes along the Columbia River creating communities and summer encampments to harvest and use the plentiful natural resources of the area’ (Portland Indian Leaders Roundtable, 2018). We take this opportunity to thank the original caretakers of this land.”

More information on the Native American community in the Portland Metropolitan area can be found here.

Janea Melido is Copy Editor for The Beacon. She can be reached at melido24@up.edu.