Dear College Community,
On Friday, President Joe Biden signed the first-ever proclamation declaring today, October 11, as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. As leaders of Pierce College, we join in celebrating our vibrant and diverse Indigenous communities that have safeguarded land, language, spirit, knowledge, and tradition across generations. The proclamation also recognizes the centuries-long campaign of violence, displacement, assimilation, and terror wrought upon Native communities and Tribal Nations throughout our country and here in our region. On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we honor America’s first inhabitants, and recognize their many ongoing contributions.
The president signed an additional proclamation acknowledging the history of Columbus Day, which Indigenous communities have advocated be instead named Indigenous Peoples’ Day, as well as three proclamations restoring protections for three national monuments considered sacred sites to Native Americans that were significantly cut back during the previous administration. The proclamations made Oct. 8 can be found on the White House Briefing Room site.
We also recognize these proclamations are a first. There is much work to be done as a nation, and a college, to further strengthen bonds with our local Indigenous communities. It is important to acknowledge our campuses are located on the ancestral lands of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, the Nisqually Indian Tribe and Steilacoom Tribe, which were forcibly occupied by colonizers. As a college, we have a long and unfortunately inconsistent history in collaborating with our local tribes. We have a deep commitment to work more closely and consistently with Indigenous communities in our region. We have much to gain through strengthening these partnerships.
On this day it is important to acknowledge our Native American students, faculty and staff, who make such a significant contribution to our college community. We commit to continue to listen to and learn from them.
We look forward to expanding and strengthening our ongoing partnerships with local Indigenous communities as we pursue mission for future generations, recognizing and valuing the history, traditions, and culture of those here long before Europeans set foot in our region.
Michele L. Johnson, Ph.D.
Chancellor and CEO
Darrell L. Cain, Ph.D.
President, Pierce College Puyallup
Julie A. White, Ph.D.
President, Pierce College Fort Steilacoom