The community is invited to Ashland’s inaugural Indigenous Peoples Day Celebration, Oct. 8 and Oct. 9. The two days of events are the result of a collaboration among Red Earth Descendants, Southern Oregon University, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, SOU Native American Studies and SOU Campus Theme.

The celebration kicks off Sunday, Oct. 8 with performances by Dancing Spirit and Supaman on the OSF Courtyard Stage at 6:15 p.m. and continues with a full day of activities at SOU and OSF on Monday, Oct. 9. A Salmon Bake and Social in the SOU Courtyard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. will be followed by a Decolonizing Plays Workshop in the SOU Rogue River Room from 2:30 to 4 p.m. A Decolonization Celebration will take place at 6:15 p.m. on the OSF Courtyard Stage. Closing out the day will be a special performance of "Off the Rails" by Native American writer Randy Reinholz at 8 p.m. in the Angus Bowmer Theatre.

During the 2016/17 academic year, graduate student Lupe Sims, whose heritage is partly White Mountain Apache, created a petition to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day in lieu of Columbus Day at SOU. The SOU community overwhelmingly decided to formally recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day in June , and to support various programs coordinated by Native American community members. On Aug. 1, inspired by the stance of the university, the Ashland City Council unanimously voted to approve a resolution to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Generally observed on the second Monday of October, Columbus Day commemorates Columbus’ so-called “discovery” of the Americas on Oct. 12, 1492, while overlooking crimes Columbus and his crew committed against the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean (Arawaks, Tainos, and Lucayans), including the rape of women and children, sport killings, mutilation and enslavement, setting a course towards a legacy that includes the wide-spread dispossession and death of millions of indigenous peoples throughout the Americas, and the kidnapping, slave trade, and torture of an estimated 9.5 million indigenous peoples from Africa.

Ashland is built on the lands of the Takelma and Shasta peoples, located near the Klamath Basin region that is the home and ancestral territory to many tribes and bands, and in a state that recognizes nine sovereign tribes. Indigenous communities add to the cultural fabric of the community and contribute to many activities throughout the year, including powwows, celebrations, lectures, conferences, community outreach, classes, grassroots social/environmental activism and intergovernmental relationships.

Observance of the day includes telling the whole story about Columbus’ legacy and celebrating the historic, cultural and contemporary presence of indigenous people and their contributions to the world.

Berkeley, California, replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day in 1992. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, at the request of the Klamath Tribes Youth Council, recently declared Oct. 9 Indigenous Peoples Day throughout Oregon.