Indigenous People’s Day at Chemeketa

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From Bolivia to Canada, the Dakotas to the Southwest to right here in Oregon, Chemeketa’s annual Indigenous People’s Day event, held in the Student Center on the Salem campus on Nov. 19.

This annual event is a collaboration between the college and the Performing Arts Club of Chemawa Indian School. Located a couple miles north of campus, Chemawa is the oldest continually-operating boarding school for Native American students, beginning in Forest Grove before relocating to Salem in 1885.

That students are continuing to practice the traditions and arts of their culture is a testament to the “resiliency of the human spirit,” said Warner Austin, the advisor of the Chemawa club.

“They said our ways would be dead,” Austin said. “Our music and dancing would be gone.”

And there was music and dancing, Chemawa students demonstrating the arts of their cultures, with students naming their tribe and Austin explaining the history of the dancing and music.

Along with the students, the musical group Chayag was on hand, sharing the folklore and music of the indigenous people of the Andes.

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