Harvard Affiliates Celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day with Event at Harvard Yard | New
More than 100 Harvard affiliates attended an Indigenous Peoples Day celebration hosted by Natives at Harvard College on Monday.
The event, held outside Matthews Hall, included speeches, a dance performance and a snack to encourage community building.
In a statement, the NaHC wrote that it was “so excited” about the participation.
“IPD is NaHC’s biggest event of the year, and we are working months in advance to organize the day,” the organization’s board of directors wrote in a text message. “Our goal is to bring the voice of the Indigenous community to the campus and highlight the importance of recognizing, celebrating and listening to Indigenous peoples.
Jovan Lim ’25, an international student from Singapore, said the event was important in showcasing indigenous history.
“There aren’t a lot of platforms at Harvard through which we can learn about the Indigenous Peoples community, and I’m not from the community,” he said. “Harvard has had a very tumultuous history with Indigenous peoples, and it’s important to recognize that.”
Anthony M. Trujillo, a Ph.D. candidate and lecturer in the history department of the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo Tribe in New Mexico, said Indigenous Peoples Day is a “celebration of life and aboriginal presence” and a demonstration of solidarity with aboriginal students.
“This university simply cannot ignore Indigenous life, thought and creativity if it is to be a leading institution in the years, decades and centuries to come,” he said.
NaHC organizers criticized Harvard, saying the university was “harming Indigenous people on campus and around the world” in numerous ways.
“Harvard still recognizes Columbus Day, still benefits from Massachusetts land dispossession in Brazil, still does not offer Native/Ethnic Studies, still does not teach many Native languages, and does not allow Native Studies to be used their languages for their language needs,” read the group’s statement.
Harvard spokespersons declined to comment.
NaHC board members added that they are “very grateful for the incredible work the Native American Program at Harvard University is doing to support native students.”
“The funding, programming and community they provide truly supports our community,” they wrote.
Sami E. Turner, 25, a resident of Lawrence, Kansas, said her closeness to Indigenous people in her hometown has given her more opportunities to learn about Indigenous history and culture.
“There is a fairly large indigenous population in my hometown, because of the [Haskell’s Indian Nations] University, and so I felt like there was a lot more opportunity to learn about the community,” she said. “But I don’t feel like, on the Harvard campus, I’ve seen that many.”
“I don’t think Harvard has offered a lot of resources or events to talk about Indigenous history and culture because that relates specifically to Harvard history,” Turner added.
The NaHC hosts other events throughout the year, such as open mics, fundraisers, and community meals.
Olyvia L. Snyder ’26, a rookie for the women’s rugby team, said she and others attended the event to support a Native Hawaiian teammate who helped organize the event.
“She’s done a great job of raising awareness about this event as a whole and Indigenous people,” she said.
—Writer Dekyi T. Tsotsong can be reached at [email protected]