Winona State celebrates indigenous people

Winona State celebrates indigenous people

Jayda Anderson, News Reporter

Winona State University staff and students are celebrating the lives and the history of those who are indigenous to Winona, Minn. and the United States of America from Oct. 11-18. This week-long conglomeration of events is known as Indigenous People’s Week to the Winona State community.

The events that were put on, elaborated the culture and traditions of those indigenous people including artistic galleries, talks from indigenous people as well as those who work with them and events that honored and continued traditions of those here before us.

An event that Winona State students attended was an “update” on the Indigenous Learning Garden, located in front of the Performance Arts Center.

Francis Bettelyoun, an Ogala Citizen, led the event which consisted of a smudging of the land.

Bettelyoun asked those in attendance if they were comfortable with participating in this smudging because in the Ogala community everyone is viewed as family.

Students, staff and community members participated in the smudging, where they stood in a circle and passed around a shell with

burning sage inside. The sage was then fanned with an eagle’s feather and directed throughout the area where the garden will be planted. 

On Thursday, Oct. 14, there was an event that featured dancers from the Prairie Island Community Dancers. This was a group of four dancers and two drummers and singers who were hoping to bring people together.

“[We hope to promote] education, good feelings and healing,” Bettelyoun said. “We can’t do it without each other.”

This event was followed by a presentation of photos and stories of those who attended the protests at Standing Rock last year.

Guests in attendance were encouraged to share their stories and one woman remarked that her “time spent [at Standing Rock] let [her] find things that were missing from [herself].”

Last year, Indigenous People were only celebrated for one day, while this year, the event has been extended to a week. According to biology professor Bruno Borsari, who is one of the faculty members involved in the events, this change was mandated by Winona State students who were involved in planning the events