Indigenous Peoples Day comes to TMCC

Published: Oct. 10, 2022 at 5:29 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - It isn’t officially recognized everywhere. On some calendars it’s still Columbus Day, but here in Reno and on the campus of Truckee Meadows Community College Monday, it was Indigenous People’s Day. The school marked the occasion with dance, demonstration, and a history lesson.

The outline of that history was a timeline that stretches back before that other claimant for recognition for this day ever set foot in this hemisphere. A long, sad list of losses from the physical violence of war and eviction from ancestral lands to the cultural violence of enforced reeducation in boarding schools.

A history that includes the loss of life, culture and language.

But that history is finally being told, and Indigenous Peoples Day and events like this are part of that recovery.

“I believe it’s recognizing the struggles we’ve been through,” said Chairman Arlan Melendez of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony. “But it recognizes the pride we have in being who we are. So, I think that’s really the story.”

Nevada has been home to four different tribes, each with their own culture and language. That too, is being recovered.

“We’re starting to build that back up through education,” says Melendez. “We teach Paiute and Shoshone in some of the language classes here and at UNR for example, as well as some of the high schools.”

Those are important steps for today’s generations of Native Americans, but Melendez says a clear-eyed look at that often tragic history, along with an appreciation for what remains, has value for all of us.

“How Native Americans look at the earth, how we look at life and recycles. And so we want them to really understand and learn from Native American practices that still work today.”