by Shana Lombard, Communications Assistant
On October 8, 2018, Washington State University and the city of Pullman celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day for the first time.
WSU students, staff and faculty initiated the idea for recognizing the holiday, and with their encouragement, WSU President Kirk Schulz signed a proclamation declaring the 2nd Monday of October Indigenous Peoples’ Day and the Pullman City Council passed a resolution doing the same.
Native American Programs Assistant Director Faith Price helped lead the initiative to bring the new holiday to WSU administration and the city council. She said the idea of recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day came up in a staff meeting for Native American Programs.
Price and her colleagues drafted a petition for community members and WSU students to sign to show their support in celebrating the day, Price said. The petition garnered over 300 signatures from tabling at the All-Campus Picnic at WSU and at the Lentil Festival. The petition was then sent to city council and WSU administration with a letter signed by the presidents of all the Native American student organizations on campus urging them to adopt the holiday.
“By saying that they welcome Native people, through the resolution and the proclamation, they send the message that the community and WSU welcome Native students here,” Price said. “This kind of makes sure that students and the campus community recognize that there are indigenous people here; they’re an important part of our community and it dispels myths that our students have to battle.”
City of Pullman Resolution
With a long agenda for the night, just about every seat in the city council meeting was filled. After listening to an hour of budget reports and public transportation reroutes getting approved, councilman C. Brandon Chapman was ready to introduce a resolution that would recognize the second Monday in October to be known as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
“We have indigenous people that live and work among us and are making phenomenal contributions to Pullman and there are so many great resources, especially on campus that talk about the history of Palootspa,” councilmember Chapman said when introducing the resolution at the Oct. 2 meeting before reading the resolution to the council.
The idea for the holiday was first discussed at the previous council meeting on September 18. With everyone on council onboard with the idea, it was noted to the crowd that a resolution would be drafted and approved by the council at the next meeting, October 2.
The resolution began:
“Resolution R-86-18, a resolution declaring the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the city of Pullman, affirming the city’s unequivocal commitment to promote respect for and understanding of the region’s indigenous community, its long history and the continuing contribution of its people to our city…”
The resolution was passed unanimously by all councilmembers. Cheers rang out from the crowd. Council members thanked guests for coming to support the resolution. Supporters stayed until the end of the meeting to shake hands of each council member and thanked them for what they did for all indigenous people who reside in Pullman. Many members of Washington State University’s Native American community were present, both students and staff.
WSU Native American Programs tabled on Monday, Oct. 8 on WSU’s Terrell Mall, to promote the new holiday and share about the original inhabitants of the land that is now Pullman, Washington. The ASWSU Ku-ah-mah Native Student Organization partnered with the Hillside Café on campus to serve an indigenous menu for the day, including buffalo ribs, venison stew, wild rice, buffalo burgers, berry soup, frybread, and more!
Robert Shirley is pursuing a Master’s in electrical engineering at Washington State University. He agrees that having Indigenous Peoples’ Day benefits those who are recognized by the day.
“Generally speaking I think it’s a good step in every relationship, for any population to say like ‘we recognize that you’re here and you continue to contribute actively to our community,’” Shirley said.