On Oct. 10, people in Chapel Hill and across the state of North Carolina celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day through events and education.
President Joe Biden became the first U.S. president to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2021. In this year’s proclamation, Biden said that Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a time to “honor the sovereignty, resilience and immense contributions that Native Americans have made to the world.”
Evynn Richardson, a sophomore student at UNC and a member of the Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe, said she celebrated alongside the Carolina Indian Circle, American Indian Center and UNC Indigenous staff by coming together to eat, enjoy fellowship and build community.
Dalton Locklear, the vice president of the CIC and a member of the Lumbee Tribe, said that in addition to the gathering, the CIC partnered with the AIC to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day by handing out tobacco and prayer bundles across campus.
“It's important to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day because it's essential to recognize that this is stolen land and to uplift Indigenous voices – especially if you’re Carolina, which is a public PWI,” he said.
Locklear said he did not think the University did enough to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day, due to the fact that the University did not send out a statement recognizing the day.
Richardson also said the University has not done enough to recognize and celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and that the expectation is that only Indigenous people celebrate the day, rather than everyone.
Richardson said one of the best ways to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day is by finding out whose land you occupy.
“If you do illegally occupy stolen land, you are benefiting from the atrocities that happened to Indigenous people, so the least you can do is learn whose land you occupy,” she said.