Observing Indigenous Peoples’ Day

October 9, 2023

Dear Seattle University Community, 

Today, Seattle University marks Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Observed the second Monday of October, Indigenous Peoples’ Day traces its roots to the 1977 International NGO Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas. In 1991, many cities began a movement to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day, acknowledging the harm caused by the doctrine of discovery and North American colonization. Seattle officially designated this day in 2014, and Seattle University adopted it in 2016. 

As the Seattle University Native American Law Students Association states in a land acknowledgment frequently invoked on our campus:

“… Seattle University is located on the homelands of the Coast Salish peoples, who continue to steward these lands and waters. We recognize tribal nations and organizations who actively create, shape and contribute to our thriving community at Seattle University and beyond. 

“We, as an academic community, should be and are committed to doing our part to engage with, and amplify the voices of Native peoples and tribes. We acknowledge our collective responsibility to advance proper education of Native peoples and tribes and call for further learning and action to support the Native people of this land.”

It is noteworthy that this year’s common text, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, invites us to broaden our appreciation of the rich body of knowledge about the natural world—and about our interdependence with it—that has been developed and sustained within Indigenous communities. 

Today, as we celebrate and honor the living traditions and rich cultures of Indigenous peoples, we also remember the unspeakable injustices perpetrated against them. Walking with and learning from the Indigenous peoples who are part of our campus and broader communities are central to our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. We are particularly grateful to the Indigenous Peoples Institute, the Center for Indian Law and Policy in the School of Law and other groups on campus, including student-led clubs, for leading us in these efforts. 

It is up to each of us to join and advance this critical work. Let us pause on this Indigenous Peoples’ Day to recommit ourselves to hastening our progress toward justice and reconciliation. 


Eduardo M. Peñalver

Natasha Martin
Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion