The Educational Opportunity Program’s American Indian and Indigenous Cultural Resource Center held a series of campus events from Oct. 11-15 to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day — the Oct. 11 federal holiday that honors the Indigenous peoples of the United States.
The week started off with a hybrid celebration hosted in collaboration with the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation, where community members gathered to discuss the significance of the holiday and their plans. American Indian and Indigenous Cultural Resource Center (AIICRC) peer mentor and third-year environmental studies major Jeanine Lomaintewa helped organize the events, with Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) coordinator and counselor Luther Richmond spearheading the operation.
“It was nice to see different people’s faces and get to know what they’re going to do for Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” Lomaintewa said. “Some people wear different shirts and rock their earrings and bling. I beaded earrings for a friend of mine and am currently working on a project knitting a quilted hat.”
Tuesday and Thursday were dedicated to “community hours,” which Lomaintewa describes as a time where members of the AIICRC are available as resources to the UC Santa Barbara community. These community hours were hosted both online and in person.
Wednesday’s event featured a film screening sponsored by the UCSB MultiCultural Center as part of the Cup of Culture series. The documentary “Gather” is centered around the movement among Native Americans to reclaim their identities amidst the generational trauma of cultural genocide.
“The purpose of this week’s events is just letting our community know that we’re here for anyone that needs support and if they want to talk about being indigenous in the community,” Lomaintewa said. “We’re here for them and we’re here to provide a family.”
Indigenous Peoples’ Day has become more prevalent in recent years in conjunction with an increase in resistance to the federally recognized Columbus Day. The AIICRC was not the only organization on campus to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
The library also hosted an online exhibition titled “Indigenous Peoples of the Americas,” which explores heritage and identity, as well as cultural and political representation.
“I think it’s important to hold these events on the UCSB campus to let everyone know that we’re still here,” Lomaintewa said. “We haven’t gone extinct or anything. It’s our culture and it’s who we are, our identity. It’s hard, especially on this big campus, to have representation for our culture.”
An email was also sent out to the student body by Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Margaret Klawunn and UC President Michael V. Drake that recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day, particularly the Chumash people who are acknowledged as the traditional custodians of the UCSB campus land.