Indigenous Peoples Day 2022

Vice President Kijua Sanders-McMurtry reflects on connecting to land and place and provides details about the College’s second annual teach-in.

Dear members of the Mount Holyoke community,

“Nothing was discovered, everything was loved” are the powerful words of poet Karenne Wood of the Monacan Indian Nation, who reflects on the beauty of land and place in the poem “Homeland.” Her words were shared with us by Dr. Leilani Sabzalian, a gifted scholar whose book and lecture “Indigenous Student Survivance in Public Schools” was a feature of our annual Native American and Indigenous Heritage Month in November of 2021 and at our annual BOOM! Community Day 2022. This Indigenous Peoples Day, we continue to build upon the work of Native scholars and activists we’ve worked with previously, including Claudia Fox Tree, Larry Spotted Crow Mann and Marcus Trujillo, by inviting educators from New England to be in community with us as we support their work and the collective, ongoing efforts towards Indigenous sovereignty.

As part of the cyclical nature of exploring land and place, our work towards meeting every one of our anti-racism action goals is vital. In support of this plan, we are invested in caring for the community and honoring our commitment to right the wrongs of the past. We aim to do so purposefully through this year’s second annual Indigenous Peoples Day teach-in, which begins today and will continue through Friday, October 14. This year’s theme of “Land and Environment” was developed through a curriculum led by Five College Native Community Development Fellow Rachel Beth Sayet of the Mohegan Nation with many resources that she has provided including various speakers and readings.

The teach-in includes a series of pre-recorded and live, virtual and in-person events throughout the week. We’re especially excited to welcome leaders, activists and scholars including Dr. Jus Crea Giammarino who will give a presentation titled “Wabanakeag: The Land of the Dawn” on Thursday, October 13 at 10:30 am in person in Gamble Auditorium. Dr. Crea Giammarino (Penobscot) provides an excellent resource for her upcoming talks which is available at the Bomazeen Land Trust. We will also welcome many speakers and hold events throughout October and Native American and Indigenous Heritage Month in November, including public virtual events featuring Councilman Hiawatha Brown (Narragansett) and Dr. Jus Crea Giammarino. Please continue to check the College events calendar as more details will be available there.

Members of MoZone, our diversity peer education program founded by students that is part of the work of the Office of Community and Belonging, will also lead an important ally-focused follow-up session to inspire ongoing action as part of the teach-in on Friday, October 14 at 3:30 pm. The Zowie Banteah Cultural Center, supported by Associate Dean Latrina Denson as advisor and Cultural Center Assistant Juliette Gagnon Strong Heart ‘24, remains an important resource for Native American and Indigenous students with hours in October and November available on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 am–3:30 pm.

We encourage you all to avail yourselves of resources made available by the organizations committed to advancing education, building capacity and supporting Indigenous people.

We have provided a list of resources and links here:

Local events and celebrations:

Massachusetts resources:

Land Acknowledgement resources:

National educational resources and materials:

Suggested readings:

To learn more and access additional resources and teach-in event information, please visit the Indigenous Peoples Day teach-in channel page on the College’s events calendar.

In solidarity,

Kijua Sanders-McMurtry
Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and Interim Title IX Coordinator