The attendance at the 2019 Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebration. The 2019 event featured a performance by the Woodland Sky Native American Dance Group following the outdoor event.

While the world looks forward to an uncertain year, education on history and issues surrounding race, as well as a determination to make the world a better place for all, sit at the forefront of many peoples’ minds.

Even while limited by COVID-19 restrictions, the UWS Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebration on Oct. 12 still had a turnout of over 50 people in a Zoom meeting hosted by the University’s Department of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. The event was also sponsored by the First Nations Center, UW-Superior’s Division of Student Affairs and the City of Superior. The event included an Indigenous Peoples’ Day proclamation along with a series of panelists ranging from UWS officials like Dr. Maria Cuzzo, the interim provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs, to Superior Mayor Jim Paine.

“We are excited to once again celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day on our campus, this time with the City of Superior as they share the city’s resolution to recognize this important day,” said Kat Werchouski, director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. “It is crucial that we continue to acknowledge the history of this region and our country while still honoring the indigenous people and cultures that are very much here – alive and strong in community and contribution.”

Indigenous Peoples’ Day came about in 1992, in Berkeley, California, when the city council voted to rename Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day to celebrate the Native Americans, who were, and still are, discriminated against even though they were the original inhabitants of the continent we now call America. Today, 14 different states including Hawai’i, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin officially celebrate the holiday.

“I learned most about Indigenous Peoples’ Day through being the mayor,” Paine said. “What’s so exciting … is that it is a movement to actually celebrate indigenous people and to lift up the leaders in our community who are celebrating the native heritage of our land. I am just honored to be a part of that.”

Thought-provoking questions and discussions kept the audience intrigued while the panelists spoke from their bona fide ideas and thoughts. The Always Thundering drum group from Red Cliff also performed at the event. The group performed an honor song while a UW-Superior native Nation Student Organization member danced in regalia.