It was only in 2019 that Governor Brad Little declared that Idaho would recognize Indigenous Peoples Day on October 11 but Boise State University's Senior Coordinator for Student Equity Ro Parker said the students have been celebrating the day for many years.
"Students decided at some point to focus on Indigenous issues and we work to support them," said Parker. "This is an important day to all of Idaho and the U.S. but speaking locally, Boise State has added Indigenous People's Day to Columbus Day; the idea was to remove it. Boise State sits on land that was once tribal land and it's important to understand that when we talk about embracing community and loving where you're from, to learn about it. It's not about romanticizing the past, there are Indigenous students sitting in the classroom now, Native people are still here."
On Oct. 11 at Boise State on the quad, the Student Equity Office, in solidarity with the students of the Intertribal Native Council, and, with support from The Indigenous Idaho Alliance and the Inclusive Excellence Student Council is celebrating Indigenous People's Day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. People can get more information by following the Boise State Student Equity Office on Facebook and Instagram. The event is followed by the Indigenous People's Day Taco Indian Taco Feed put on by The Indigenous Idaho Alliance at The Linen Building to support the students from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Food is free to Indigenous People and a $5 donation is required for everyone else. People can find more information on the event Facebook page.
This year the students are focusing on three things: the impact and location of boarding schools, murdered and missing Indigenous women, and recruiting new members to the student council.
"Two doctoral students created an interactive display where people can learn about the widespread impact of boarding schools and the students are working on compiling a list of local missing Indigenous women," said Parker. "As far as recruiting, Indigenous populations are the smallest group of students, so sometimes the council is more active than others. The council is trying to get more students involved."
The council also plans to have a petition people can sign started by New Mexico's Deb Haaland, the first Native to serve as Secretary of the Interior. Haaland spearheaded the petition to demand Congress support Indigenous communities by passing the Not Invisible Act.
"All of the things the students are focusing on this year are equally important," said Parker. "The impact of boarding schools is detrimental, even now and the lack of recourses or willingness to find these missing women is alarming. We need to raise awareness and that's what the students wanted to focus on."