MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – Northern Michigan University’s Native American Student Association, or NASA, held a ceremony Monday marking Indigenous Peoples Day. More than 100 students, faculty, and local residents packed the Whitman Hall Commons, on NMU’s campus to celebrate the enduring culture of the Anishinaabe people. The event was scheduled for the academic mall but was moved indoors due to the weather. The program began with a drum circle, where singers paid tribute to their heritage through song. Then there were remarks from NASA members, local tribal leaders, and NMU’s President, Brock Tessman.
“It’s Indigenous Peoples Day. It just recognizes that our past and NMU our present our future, are inextricably tied to our indigenous peoples here. And so, I look forward to learning more from our faculty, our staff, our students, and our community members, and figuring out how we can chart that path forward together. It’s a mission also a charge to action.” Said President Tessman.
State Representative Jenn Hill was on hand to represent the State. Hill appreciated the long road taken to arrive at this point of understanding and awareness.
“I’m really glad that for an honor for the folks who brought us here who got us here through that long conversation, and let’s celebrate the people who have been here for 1000s of years and as we find these ways to live together better, I’m glad to be a part of those conversations.” Said Hill.
The celebration then held a healing march through campus to the site of the sign acknowledging that the campus is located on ancestral homelands of The Anishinaabe Three Fires Confederacy. This morning’s celebration ended with another drum circle at what is called the fire site, a wooded area set aside for indigenous ceremonial and academic purposes.
President of NMU’s Native American Student Association, Kateri Phillips sees celebrations like today as a way to inform, enlighten, and remember the historical importance of Anishinaabe culture.
“I think history is a huge one. It really is this because when you know your history, you know yourself and take pride in that and I feel like that’s something that’s been missing for a very long time the business of being able to take pride in ourselves.” Said Phillips.
Monday morning’s celebration was one of 4 such events recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day at NMU. Monday evening’s program included a keynote speaker and a panel discussion at Whitman Hall Commons.