On Monday Oct. 11, Indigenous Peoples’ Day was celebrated in the United States and recognized at Oklahoma Christian University. President Joe Biden has become the first U.S. president to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a national holiday.
Junior Janaya McIntosh is a member of the Diné or Navajo and Mvskoke or Muscogee Creek tribes. She said she is proud of her heritage and represents them as best she can.
“Both of my cultures made me into the person I am today,” McIntosh said. “My families’ teachings and moral upbringings has taught me the importance of respecting everyone no matter who they are, taking care of our environment and preserving our natural resources.”
McIntosh said she uses this day as a way to honor and give thanks to her ancestors’ resilience in times of great hardship.
“It is a time to give honor, glory and thanks to God for allowing indigenous communities to exist today and that He pulled my people out of hard times,” McIntosh said.
Junior Patricia Fernandez, treasurer for LASO, said this day allows for the indigenous peoples to be acknowledged properly.
“I would say the best thing about having Indigenous Peoples’ Day is the sense of inclusion instead of exclusion and the opportunity for education for those who lack it,” Fernandez said.
The Native American population is a lower income minority group.
“In my experience I have learned the Native American population has the lowest academic scores,” McIntosh said. “It has always been my passion to assist and improve the quality of education for Native Americans students and supporting children’s learning.”
Fernandez grew up in the Dominican Republic, and she said she has grown up being exposed to a wide variety of people.
“My community is very outspoken, so, if we do see injustice, we will fix it and call them out on it if others can’t or will not,” Fernandez said.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day has grown in popularity as new historical research continuously reveals the origins of Columbus Day. McIntosh said she feels Columbus Day overshadowed recognition of the Indigenous peoples.
“During the 2020, election CNN referred Native American voters as ‘something else’,” McIntosh said. “Now Indigenous Peoples’ Day is being recognized and at the forefront of important conversations.”
During chapel, Oklahoma Chrisitian highlighted Indigenous Peoples’ Day as well as Latine and Hispanic Heritage Month.
“This sole notion strives me to better understand what others like me might have gone through being indigenous whilst living in the U.S. their entire lives,” Fernandez said.
McIntosh said she is grateful for the support Oklahoma Christian has shown to Indigenous peoples and other ethnic groups.
“Acknowledging this day shows that Oklahoma Christian University is an institution that advocates inclusion, supports social justice, embraces cultural diversity and cares about all their students and staff,” McIntosh said.