Members of NDSU as well as from the community gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony
On Oct. 12, Indigenous Peoples’ Day was celebrated with an opening ceremony at the new location of the Grandmother Earth’s Gift of Life Garden. The event featured various speakers who all signified the importance of celebrating Indigenous culture and history.
Among some of the speakers was Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney who talked about how the city of Fargo started recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a holiday five years ago.
“As mayor of Fargo, it’s imperative to me that all people of all backgrounds are welcome, appreciated and important in their home city.”
Johnathan Judd, the mayor of Moorhead, Bernie Dardis, the mayor of West Fargo and Julie Nash, the deputy mayor of Dilworth also spoke about the importance of embracing indigenous culture. As well as what they’re currently working on in their cities to ensure there are diversity and inclusion.
One of the last speakers was Isnala Nanjin Roan Eagle, a North Dakota State University mechanical engineering student, who talked about how underrepresented Native American students are within majors at college.
Jaclynn Davis Wallette, the Director of Multicultural Programs, sat down for an interview to talk about the event and how NDSU is continuing to make changes for diversity and inclusion on campus.
Because of the construction of Sugihara Hall, the original location of the garden had to be relocated. When it came to choosing the new location for the garden, Wallette said that a consensus was made after a committee toured different sites across campus.
While the event ended with the groundbreaking ceremony, Wallette said that a grand reopening will be held at a later date.
Wallette thinks that NDSU changing the institutional recognition to Indigenous Peoples’ Day will help students learn about Indigenous culture. Wallette said that the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day has been happening for about a decade now with universities making changes as well.
On campus, NDSU is planning on naming spaces after North Dakota tribes since some were left out as President Bresciani mentioned in his State of University speech.
Though Wallette doesn’t know what spaces are going to be named, she said, “It has been something that has been brought up to me a number of times when we have visitors. Here’s an opportunity to acknowledge all of the tribes in North Dakota.”
Wallette also talked about the New Beginning of Tribal Students program which she and various other faculty, staff and administrators submitted a proposal for earlier in the year.
Wallette explained that the grant will assist students from tribal communities and native communities in the Fargo-Moorhead area transition into NDSU.
“There’ll be opportunities for support systems to be put into place and to better connect the students with the resources that are available.” Wallette also said that there will be dedicated space in the Multicultural Offices for native students to gather to get support.
Another opportunity of the grant will allow the campus to reach out to native students to learn from them about their cultures.
“Especially what you’ll often see is many grants have not included urban Native American students. And if you look at the data, the completion rates for urban Native American students completing high school is very low.”
Wallette said that this information should be used by universities so they can “better serve” the population group.
As for other changes being made to increase diversity and inclusion, Wallette talked about what the Multicultural Programs are currently working on.
Wallette mentioned Frederick Edwards, a graduate student, who is working on connecting faculty and community members to create programs that will allow people to discuss diverse issues.
Student Activities and Multicultural Programs have connected to show a movie in a few months which will feature diverse issues and allow students to talk about it afterward.
The Multicultural Programs also offers several student organizations that students can join. For more information, check out https://www.ndsu.edu/multicultural/