2021 is the first year that a U.S. president has officially recognized Indigenous Peoples' Day. The day calls for celebrating history and acknowledging the impact Indigenous peoples have had on the past and present, and will have in the future. Indigenous Peoples' Day is meant to challenge the narrative of the discovery of the Americas and to instead recognize the histories and lives of Indigenous peoples in the Americas.
Indigenous people are misrepresented in mainstream media, culture and history, so Indigenous Peoples' Day offers an opportunity to amplify Indigenous voices, art, business, history and experiences. Indigenous Peoples' Day is a time to recognize the important impact that Indigenous peoples have on the contemporary world. To do so, we can support Indigenous small businesses. LMU's Indigenous Student Union (ISU) and organization Native Women Lead provide lists of Indigenous artists, businesses and organizations.
Quw’utsun' Made is an indigenous owned business that uses ancestral knowledge to create contemporary lifestyle products. NDN Collective is an organization that creates solutions on Indigenous terms through “organizing, activism, philanthropy, grantmaking, capacity-building and narrative change.” Stephanie Littlebird Fogel of the Grand Ronde Confederation tribe is an artist and writer from Portland, Oregon who mixes "her own tribal traditions with contemporary materials and subject matter."
Other resources posted to ISU LMU’s Instagram explains that an important aspect of Indigenous Peoples' Day is researching and acknowledging the original inhabitants of the land we occupy. LMU currently sits upon lands originally inhabited by the Tongva, who came to Ballona from the Mojave Desert 3,000 to 5,000 years ago.
Tongva artifacts were discovered during the construction of the Leavey apartments at LMU, and several hundred Native Americans’ remains were found in a burial ground in Playa Vista around 2004.
LAist writes in its article on the history of LA's Indigenous Tongva People: “Their influence on the eventual metropolis of Los Angeles extends far beyond their choice of location, though; the forced labor and enslavement of Tongva peoples is what allowed Spanish settlers and missionaries to develop their reach in the first place … After early settlers had enslaved and assimilated the Tongva peoples, the California Gold Rush and the path to statehood would further decimate their population.”
This year, Indigenous activists marched in Washington, D.C. to urge President Biden to declare a national climate emergency. Indigenous peoples are crucial voices for the movement to slow climate change. UN Climate Change News writes that “[I]ndigenous peoples help safeguard 80% of the world’s biodiversity and hold many of the solutions to the climate crisis, despite constituting less than 5% of the global population.”
Tongva educator, tribal elder and cultural affairs officer for the Gabrielino/Tongva Band of Mission Indians Julia Bogany explained to KCRW in an interview about Tongva’s descendants: “There is this reciprocity that is needed in any type of relationship we have, whether it’s human or animal planet whatever. It’s a give and take. And that’s how my ancestors were able to survive on this land for not a few hundred years, but for thousands of generations.”
Indigenous Peoples' Day offers a time to recognize the history, stories, contributions and impact of Indigenous peoples. To show support, you can check out the Indigenous organizations, artists and businesses, learn about the history of the Tongva peoples and their original inhabitance of the lands LMU resides upon and support efforts against climate change.