This year, Durango will recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the second Monday of October, after a decision this week by Durango City Council.
Fort Lewis College student Ruthie Edd, who advocated for the recognition of the holiday to replace Columbus Day, hopes it will give students, teachers and the community in general an opportunity to talk about Native American history and the history of indigenous people around the world.
“It’s really to celebrate and to heal and also to connect on both sides,” she said.
Growing up in Durango, she found Thanksgiving and Columbus Day were some of the times in school when people would talk about Native Americans. She hopes the new holiday will be a platform for cultural awareness.
“It can be really hard, especially for younger students, to be a voice for their culture,” she said.
She became more of an advocate in high school and has stayed involved with the Peace Leader of the Diné Club on campus. Edd founded the club for Navajo students to practice their culture and language together.
She also authored the resolution adopted by the City Council on Tuesday.
“I think by high school, I had understood if we didn’t speak out, no one would hear us,” she said.
Edd and her friends advocated for Fort Lewis College to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day this year. The designation was approved by the Associated Students of Fort Lewis College and President Dene Thomas’ cabinet in December.
Many other cities, including Seattle, Albuquerque and Minneapolis, and several states have also recognized the holiday, which helped inspire Edd.
In honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, she wants community members, especially students, to come to the Real History of the Americas activities held at Fort Lewis College. For the last eight years, students have organized a celebration of the history of North and South America from the perspective of Native, Hispanic, African-American and Asian peoples, among others.
In recent years, the celebrations have included dance, poetry and other artistic expressions
“It can be really hard to articulate everything in an academic setting or in writing,” she said.