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Indigenous Peoples’ Day at CU Boulder Not Dampened by Weather

October 9, 2018

University of Colorado senior Briannah HIll holds a sign during Monday's Indigenous Peoples' Day march.

Not even a heavy downpour Monday could stop a determined group of students from marching across the University of Colorado campus in honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

The march was planned and hosted by CU’s Organization Between Student Orgs, and Oyate, a Native group. It was one of a number of events held across the country for Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a counter-celebration started in 1989 held on the same day as the federal Columbus Day holiday. It came one day after an event in Boulder welcomed about 100 members of the Southern Arapaho from Oklahoma and Northern Arapaho from Wyoming to their ancestral Boulder Valley lands.

The 11 participants at CU on Monday silently marched 15 minutes across campus from Cheyenne-Arapaho Hall to the University Memorial Center, where they then gathered in a circle to listen as a few individuals read aloud poems ingrained with the desire for systematic change.

CU junior Halle Sago and CU senior Genriel Ribitsch are co-leaders of Oyate, and the two were responsible for planning the Indigenous Peoples Day march.

“It’s amazing to have people come out and support us like this,” Sago said. “Even in the simple numbers, we can receive. It helps to be recognized.”

Though the march celebrated indigenous people, it also represented a call for deeper understanding and awareness concerning their persecution. Signs protesting colonization and calling for the uniting of indigenous people were marked with crimson and yellow writing.

“We are on stolen land,” one sign read.

CU student and student outreach coordinator Charly Mendoza read one of his poems aloud to the group and was an active participant in the activities of the march.

“It’s empowering to see the acts of trying to reclaim the history that has been washed out with white standards,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza has Raramuri Tarahumara lineage, which has historic ties with the Arapaho, he said.

This event is one of many celebrating indigenous people and the role they had and still have in shaping America.

Events such as Monday’s play a key role in raising awareness about Native American people and what is happening in indigenous communities, Ribitsch said.

“We wanted to bring to light, the issues,” she said. “Indigenous people are still here. We have been here and we aren’t going anywhere.”

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