Indigenous Peoples Day has been increasingly replacing Columbus Day all across the country and Stan State is following close behind.

This year, the Ethnic Studies Program and Indigenous Students in Activism (ISA) will host the third annual Indigenous Peoples Day. 

Dr. Cueponcaxochitl Moreno Sandoval, professor of Ethnic Studies, has been one of the leading voices in organizing Indigenous Peoples Day and bringing more recognition of Indigenous peoples to Stan State and the surrounding areas. 

“For one, let’s recognize that we are on native land, that this land that we stand on and learn and engage in professionally and academically is native land, and it was unceded territory. California especially went through a violent genocide of Indigenous peoples,” said Dr. Moreno Sandoval in regards to the importance of Indigenous Peoples Days. 

On June 18, Governor Gavin Newson apologized for California’s violence against California’s Native Americans and established a Truth and Healing Council. The Truth and Healing Council will serve as a platform for Native Americans to correct historical record and give their perspectives on historical events.

While California does not celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day as a state, several cities such as Berkeley, Long Beach, Santa Cruz, Burbank, San Fernando, San Luis Obispo, Watsonville and Los Angeles have opted to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day in order to recognize and celebrate the Native American communities of the state. 

With Indigenous Peoples Day getting bigger every year at Stan State, Dr. Moreno Sandoval, hopes to bring more Indigenous presence to Stan State and Turlock. 

“It took us a year to meet somebody [Nototomne Elder] because if you look around Stanislaus State, and then the City of Turlock and then the greater county, how much Indigenous presence do we see? I mean you got words like Tuolumne Rd … we got one statue in downtown Turlock that’s supposed to be a Northern Yokut woman, but there’s no plaque that describes that. You got the name Stanislaus that is a warrior chief, but that’s a Christian name, his native name is not Stanislaus. There are little, tiny clues, but you’ve got to be looking for them,” said Dr. Moreno Sandoval.  

This year, Indigenous Peoples Day lands on October 14. Celebrations at Stan State begin this Thursday, October 10th, and end on Monday, October 14.

The significance of the three-day event is because Indigenous Peoples Day is “not just one day, it’s everyday,” said Dr. Moreno Sandoval. 

The theme of this year’s Indigenous Peoples Day is Indigenous Sustainability. 

The theme was chosen due to current events happening across the world, such as the burning of the Amazon, and because of the fact that we are in the Central Valley, where water and agriculture are an essential part of everyday life.  

Event goers can expect to see “music, songs, drumming...panels on protecting the sacred, the theme of the events is Indigenous sustainability, protecting water, land, human and more than human kinships,” said Dr. Moreno Sandoval. 

Kicking off with a book talk, panels and drumming by Hummingbird Singers on Thursday at 4:00 p.m. at the Faculty Development Center (FDC) patio, the event will move on to performances by students and indigenous hip-hop artist and lyricists, MTV Video Music Award (VMA) winner, Supaman on Friday at 6:00 p.m.

Festivities end on Monday with the planting and blessing of two Indigenous oak trees with Nototomne Elder.

It is encouraged that attendees wear their Indigenous clothing from their cultures from anywhere in the world.

The planting and blessing will start at nine a.m. on the grass area between Willow Lake and Lot 11. 

Dr. Moreno Sandoval hopes that Indigenous Peoples Day inspires attendees to connect with their roots and to recognize the native land that they are on.

“We want to inspire everybody from all walks of life to… one, recognize that we’re on native land, two, connect to your ancestral roots from all parts of the world and three, connect to the land and work with it in your own way for the health of Indigenous Nations and all people,” said Dr. Moreno Sandoval.

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