October 05, 2023

Indigenous Peoples’ Day 2023

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

On Monday, October 9, we will observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day. First recognized by the State of Oregon in 2021, it is a day to honor and recognize Indigenous communities throughout the U.S. and in Oregon. It is also a day to acknowledge the generational harm done to Indigenous communities by the U.S. government including forcible removal from ancestral lands, cultural erasure, and overt acts of violence.

We strive as a community to acknowledge the past, present, and future significance of Indigenous peoples on our campus, and we are actively working to lay the foundation for a relationship with Indigenous communities that is based on honesty, respect, and reparative action.

In that spirit, I encourage you to uplift the voices and visibility of Native and Indigenous communities through events and workshops around campus related to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. I hope you were able to attend the event that the Native Student Union (NSU) hosted this past Monday, October 2. This educational panel examined the importance and history of Indigenous Peoples’ Day and the lived experiences of being Indigenous in our local communities. NSU is “dedicated to the study, reflection, and celebration of Indigenous cultures and histories worldwide,” and creates intentional spaces for Indigenous students and allies to support each other and build community; contact them (nsu@lclark.edu) for more information or details on upcoming events.

On Indigenous Peoples’ Day itself, you are encouraged to attend an event hosted by the Native American Law Students Association and the Indian Law Program. Guest speaker Rachel L. Cushman is presenting a lecture on “Chinook Sovereignty and Environmental Justice” at 12:10 p.m. on the law campus.

This coming Tuesday, October 10, the Center for Social Change and Community Involvement and Showing Up for Racial Justice are hosting an allyship workshop. The workshop will provide “concrete ways to act in solidarity with Indigenous movements.” RSVPs are encouraged.

Last year, I convened a group of Indigenous alumni which evolved into the Native American Presidential Advisory Committee. We continue to engage on a range of issues, including increasing the Native American/Indigenous presence on campus and envisioning LC as a leading institution of higher education for Native/Indigenous students and the tribes they represent in the region and the entire country. The committee has been invaluable in providing perspective, generating ideas, building networks, and generously contributing to creating a more inclusive institution.

While there is much work ahead, I’d like to share some of our progress:

  • We welcomed our inaugural Native Scholar-Artist In Residence this semester, Shakespeare scholar and theatre artist Waylon Lenk BA ’08. This program grew out of discussions with Indigenous alumni and is designed to engage undergraduate students during their orientation and first-year experiences in learning about the college’s history, focusing on the contributions of and impact on Indigenous communities and people of color.
  • The Native Alumni Association, officially established in March 2023, is working with faculty, staff, and student organizations to support the academic and life success of Native students at all three of Lewis & Clark’s schools.
  • We are working on strategies to better recruit and support students from Oregon tribes.
  • We are in the process of establishing relationships between the institution and all nine federally recognized tribes of Oregon to better understand ways that we can work collaboratively and effectively with them in meaningful and lasting ways.

Thank you to the members of the Advisory Committee, as well as the staff, faculty, students, and alumni who have been working with me on these programs and initiatives.

I believe the best way forward is together, building positive relationships based on action, celebrating our shared history and future, acknowledging the impacts of past action on Native people and supporting our proud Native and Indigenous students and community. We will continue to turn our values into actions, and I look forward to sharing and celebrating our progress with you in the future.


Robin H. Holmes-Sullivan