Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Independent Student Newspaper of UW Oshkosh Campuses

The Advance-Titan

Native American students celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day on campus

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The Inter-Tribal Student Organization brought attention to the natives who live on campus and in the Oshkosh area through various events during Indigenous Peoples Day.

The point of Indigenous Peoples Day is to reimagine Columbus Day and change the celebration of colonialism into an opportunity to reveal historical truths, ITSO President Nicholas Metoxen said.

“It is a lot different history than what people are told versus what I grew up learning,” Metoxen said. “We are not trying to bash Columbus; it is just a much better idea to focus on life instead of the death that is in the past.”

Metoxen said this movement is part of broader attempts to clarify the Italian explorer’s role in American history.

“While many are still celebrating Columbus Day, smaller cities have changed the name to Indigenous Peoples Day,” Metoxen said. “There have been around fifty cities who have changed the day to Indigenous Peoples Day rather than Columbus Day to celebrate their heritage.”

Metoxen said the goal of ITSO is to let the world know Native people are still here and are doing great things.

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“We have many exciting events coming up that reflect and show the current life of Native people and ways in which we make our presence in the world today,” Metoxen said.

Focusing on what is going on today, the beautiful art and what people are doing makes the Native culture continue to grow, Metoxen said.

Voltan Ik, an artist present at Indigenous Peoples Day at UWO, said in reality, art is what creates the culture.

“Without art there is no culture, music, poetry, songs or dances,” Ik said. “All of those are forms of art and without that, we do not exist as people.”

Ik said it is important to empower artists and let the youth know they can be involved in manifesting their art.

“There is not enough of us artists out there that represent our culture and heritage,” Ik said. “This is one of the ways that I take action because I feel like it gives me purpose.”

Ik said he has seen so much discouragement in the world and knows that can be changed by having a connection with the communities.

“We can change despair through human contact, but we have to heal ourselves first before we heal the world,” Ik said.

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Metoxen said UWO has been an ally for Indigenous Peoples Day.

“At UWO, Indigenous Peoples Day has been going on for three years,” Metoxen said. “We got the resolution passed and we now have UWO to stand with us.”

Students don’t have to be indigenous to help share the message, Metoxen said.

“To be an ally, someone who isn’t native, is someone who understands our cause and who is with us for the movement,” Metoxen said.

ITSO has a lot of members who are allies and a lot of faculty members who are allies too, Metoxen said.

“You don’t have to have any Native American lineage to stand with us,” Metoxen said. “We stand for so much more than just a race; it is all about the ideas behind it.”

Metoxen said the Dakota Access Pipeline is a perfect example of what natives would have never been able to do alone without allies.

“Allies are a very important part and the protest would not have gotten so much attention as it had if there were no allies present,” Metoxen said.

Tatum DePerry, a freshman at UWO, said the most frustrating thing to non-natives is when people think the group is exclusive.

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“We definitely accept allies,” DePerry said. “They help support our cause and motivate us to keep doing what we are doing.”

DePerry said being a Native made her want to meet other Native Americans on campus.

“It’s definitely been a good connection to join as well as showing support to the community,” DePerry said.

There are about 150 people signed up currently who either identify themselves as a Native or an ally, Metoxen said.

“The indigenous peoples’ presence here is huge and is growing and growing every year,” Metoxen said.

According to Metoxen, the flags hanging in front of Mi Taza in Reeve Memorial Union were not always up.

“The Native American flags were never included until three years ago when we proclaimed it Indigenous Peoples Day here at UWO,” Metoxen said.

Those flags are only some of the tribes that are here in Oshkosh, Metoxen said.

“In fact, Oshkosh is named after Chief Oshkosh,” Metoxen said. “Not a lot of people know that that he was a member of the Menomonee tribe from up north.”

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ITSO does a lot in promoting Native American activism and sharing their future events on UWO’s campus, Metoxen said.

“Follow the UWO Facebook and Twitter page,” Metoxen said. “There is a lot of ways that if you follow us we will be directing you to different artists that are working on different forms of activism in the community.”

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Hannah Wilson, News Writer

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