Celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day with CWI

Published: October 6, 2022

College of Western Idaho (CWI) will celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a statewide recognized day honoring the history, culture, and contributions of Indigenous people on Monday, Oct. 10. The entire CWI community is invited to join us for food, activities, a presentation by an Indigenous CWI student, and to learn more about Indigenous people.

“I am hopeful this event will make people more aware of Indigenous people, their traditions, what it is like to be a contemporary Indigenous person, but also I hope it has them think about their own heritage and what that means to them,” said Associate Professor of Anthropology, Nikki Gorrell.

This will be the first Indigenous Peoples’ Day in-person at CWI since 2019. Gorrell helped create the first Indigenous Peoples’ Day event at CWI in 2018, with the help from the College’s Inclusive Excellence Committee.

The State of Idaho has officially recognized the day since 2019 when Governor Brad Little issued a proclamation declaring every second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Each year, Gorrell works to bring in an Indigenous voice in the community onto campus for the event to speak, share their story, and help educate others about their culture. This year is extra special because the presentation will be put on by CWI Creative Writing student and Anthropology Club President, Maddox Lightning, who identifies as Indigenous.

“I am very open and proud of my Indigenous heritage,” said Lightning.

Lightning is a matrilineal of Kanien'kehá:ka (People of the Crystals, also called the Mohawk Nation), of the Rotinohshonni (People who Build Longhouses, also called the Iroquois Confederacy). The Rotinohshonni are a confederation of now six tribes, and is the oldest living democracy in the world.

"It's been a new journey for me because it has only been about the last two years that I started to learn about my Nation's language, go to the territory, and delve into my Indigenous ancestry," Lightning said.

In a presentation, entitled Peace and Power: My Journey Reconnecting to my Rotinohshonni Identity, Lightning plans to share her personal journey learning more about her Indigenous heritage, what led her to look more into her roots, and what adventures this self-discovery has taken her on, both mentally and physically.

The presentation will also touch on the ancient Rotinohshonni practice of song trading. Lightning will teach audience members a traditional Friendship Song.

Maddox Lightning“I hope to honor and celebrate Indigenous people every day because it is impossible to encompass more than 500 Nations' cultures and histories in one day," Lightning said. “However, having a day of awareness, like Indigenous Peoples’ Day, is important because it invites those who haven’t had the opportunity or interest to learn about Indigenous peoples to do just that. This event is like a gateway for others to honor and celebrate our cultures.”

"I hope people walk away thinking, 'All native peoples aren't the same.' Because there is not just one Indigenous group, there are more than 500 Nations who all hold their own stories and languages. I hope this is a call for others to learn more about their own ancestors and where they come from. When we look back at the diversity in ourselves, I think we have a better foothold to honor the diversity around us.”

Peace and Power: My Journey Reconnecting to my Rotinohshonni Identity will be held at Nampa Campus Academic Building (NCAB) Rm 102E on Monday, Oct. 10, from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.

For those with questions or in need of more information, contact Nikki Gorrell at nikkigorrell@cwi.edu

Monday’s event is possible through contributions and efforts made by the School of Social Sciences and Public Affairs (SSPA), Inclusive Exclusive Committee, the Anthropology program, and the Anthropology Club.

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