UAF joins in Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations

The University of Alaska Fairbanks is also holding events to honor Indigenous Peoples Day, today — from 4 to 9 p.m. — highlighting Alaska Native cultures. UAF vice chancellor of rural, community and Native education Evon Peter said it arose out of support from across the university community.

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”We had a ground swell of student government organizations, formal resolutions from UAS and UAF student bodies and then later the staff alliance and the faculty alliance submitting letters to President Johnsen encouraging a recognition within the UA system,” Peter said. “President Johnsen did sign a memo saying we’re going to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day in alignment with what came out of the state government.”

Peter said the evening program features Native dancing and singing, comments from community leaders, and UAF professors speaking in three Alaska Native languages: “Gwich’in, Yupik and Inupiaq.”

Peter said the university is a natural venue for the Indigenous People’s Day celebration because it brings together peoples from across the state.

”We serve a really broad swath of the state, and we have something like 13 indigenous languages that are a part of that geographic spread,” Peter said. “And so not only is UAF an institution here in Fairbanks — or “Tanan” as we call it it Gwich’in — but we also have these different campuses spread throughout the state.”

Peter said UAF has been investing in Alaska Native arts and education over the last several decades, and today offers everything from a certificate in tribal management to a Ph.D in Indigenous Studies.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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