K-State to host 6th annual Indigenous Peoples Day Conference

Monday, October 11, 2021, K-State’s Indigenous Faculty and Staff Alliance (IFSA) will host their 6th annual Indigenous Peoples Day (IPD) Conference. While the second Monday in October is historically called Columbus Day, it is now recognized at Kansas State University and in many other communities, as Indigenous Peoples Day. This change affirms the history that prior to the colonization of the United States, there were thriving Indigenous communities in these places.

This year’s IPD theme is “Sovereignty: Food, Film and Policy.” Conversations throughout the day will discuss “food ways,” practices such as hunting and crop growing, and how they were stripped from communities when Indigenous peoples were moved to reservations. Other conversations will examine national, state and local policies from Indigenous perspectives. The day will include a film and discussion regarding food sovereignty and how to reclaim former food ways that are vital to Indigenous communities.

IPD 2021 will feature four keynote speakers. Tina Suazo (Taos/Jemez Pueblo) will begin the day with a discussion of restoring traditional food systems and how she is working toward this mission through the empowerment of Indigenous youth. The second keynote will be led by Dr. Joseph Hiller (Oglala Lakota) alongside Dr. Joe Graham (Pueblo of Laguna) who will lead a conversation around Native agriculture and the role of the Native American Agriculture Fund.

During lunch, there will be a screening of the film “Gather” to offer insight into the reclamation of food sovereignty and its role in spiritual and social identity. The film will be followed by a series of breakout discussions before the final keynote with Jason Champagne (Red Lake Band of Chippewa) titled “Traditional Indigenous Food Recipes: Their Importance to Native American Cultures.” The day will end with the fall meeting of the Kansas Association for Native American Education.

IPD is just one part of the work of the IFSA. Throughout the year, the IFSA collaborates with the Native American Student Body to bring in speakers, offer activities and lead educational projects. In a recent project, the IFSA is continuing its work with the College of Agriculture to meet the goals of a grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) in an effort to recruit more Indigenous students to careers in agriculture.

When asked how to become a stronger ally for Indigenous peoples, Dr. Debra Bolton (Ohkay Owingeh/Diné/Ute), director of intercultural learning and academic success, said: “Number one, be curious to learn all you can about the true history of Indigenous peoples. Number two, do your own research and get multiple perspectives on Indigenous history. Understand that we’re not here to change your perspective, we’re here to widen your perspective, and possibly inject some truth into the history books that have been written from one point of view.”

If you’re interested in registering for Indigenous Peoples Day visit: Indigenous Peoples Day (k-state.edu). There will also be a virtual offering for some portions of the day.

Philanthropic support makes possible many of the activities, speakers and projects hosted by the IFSA. To support the IFSA, visit their online giving page or contact Heather Strafuss at heathers@ksufoundation.org or 785-775-2146.

Written by: Ariana Brancato

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