Indigenous Peoples' Day

October 10, 2022

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff, 

On this, the second, Monday of October, we celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The history of Indigenous Peoples’ Day is traced to 1977 and the first International NGO Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas. Beginning in 1991, many cities began a movement to recognize and celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day in place of Columbus Day as a step toward recognizing the harmful legacies of the doctrine of discovery and North American colonization. As a direct result of community activism, the City of Seattle declared the second Monday in October Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2014, and Seattle University officially adopted Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2016.  

Today we pause to give thanks for many ways in which our university is enriched and sustained by the contributions, cultures and living traditions of Indigenous peoples. Our campus abounds with daily reminders of Indigenous leaders who have enduringly impacted our city, region and university—from Chief Si’ahl (Seattle) to taqᵂšǝblu Vi Hilbert to Billy Frank, Jr. 

And yet we also acknowledge that our university is located on the ancestral land of the Coast Salish people. As a Jesuit and Catholic university, we are challenged to confront with honesty the atrocities and abuses that have been perpetrated on Indigenous peoples, and as faculty, staff and students, we must continually educate ourselves on our shared—and in all too many cases painful—history. 

Awareness is a starting point, but actions must follow. In marking this day, let us reflect together on meaningful ways we can lift up the voices and living traditions of Native peoples as we build a world that is truly just, humane and inclusive. 


Eduardo M. Peñalver

Natasha Martin
Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion