Indigenous Peoples’ Day: Celebrating community, inclusion and cultural education

The Department of Native American Studies, along with the help of many other organizations and departments, celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Oct. 9. Instead of recognizing the increasingly controversial Columbus Day, last year MSU joined the growing number of cities and universities dedicating the second Monday in October to commemorate the shared history and culture of indigenous peoples.


Walter Fleming, the department head of Native American Studies, and Bozeman Mayor Carson Taylor addressed the crowd about the significance of changing the holiday. The two spoke about how we should not glorify someone who many associate with a myriad of dark instances. “We have to stop thinking that the only way to be successful is by trampling down someone else,” Carson exclaimed. “Instead we need to all be successful by helping each other to be better people.” Flemming came out and acknowledged the record setting enrollment of American Indian students at MSU, and announced future events


Students and faculty gathered behind Montana Hall to participate in a Round Dance, a traditional dance used to unify and connect a community. Over 100 attendees joined hands and spread out, engulfing the center of the Centennial Mall in a human circle. Drummers and singers entered the circle, and set the rhythm of the dance.

The atmosphere on the mall that afternoon perfectly reflected the union that Carson illustrated.


Throughout the rest of the week, the Native American Studies Department and multiple other sponsors and organizers held events across Bozeman promoting Indigenous Peoples’ Day, trying to gain support in making Indigenous People’s Day a recognized holiday at the state level. Tuesday there was the chili cook-out at the Christus Collegium and Art show in the SUB. Wednesday at the MoR, Isebella Hawkins discussed how an indigenous tribe’s technology created the most sustainable bridge in the world. On Thursday, Elouise Cobell is hosting a film focusing around a missing money scandal in her tribe, and Adrea Carmen is hosting a discussion about native law and tribal sovereignty on Friday.

MSU Students, Faculty and Community members join hands in front of Montana Hall for a round dance celebrating Indigenous Peoples day. Monday, Oct. 9, 2017. Photo by Annika Serniotti.