The sound of drums echoed across campus Monday as UNM’s Native American Studies Indigenous Research Group celebrated “Indigenous Day.”

NASIRG co-chair and student Alyssa Begay said the group organized Indigenous Day events as an alternative to the nationally recognized Columbus Day.

“Indigenous Day is a protest and alternative to Columbus Day that emphasizes indigenous communities and culture worldwide,” she said.

Indigenous Day events began at 6:30 a.m., and ended at 3:30 p.m. with a ceremony at the duck pond where participating students threw flowers into the pond.

Begay said this year’s events focused on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The U.N. General Assembly resolution adopted the declaration in 2007.

The declaration affirmed equality of indigenous people and dictated “every indigenous individual has the right to a nationality.”

Begay said UNM’s Indigenous Day events urged attendees to use the declaration.

“Today was about how can we incorporate UNDRIP into our communities now,” she said. “Even though it has been in effect since 2007, people aren’t really using it. There is some knowledge of it, but few people want to put that into action.”
Begay said the event didn’t focus on negative aspects of indigenous people’s history, but on moving forward in a positive way.

“We don’t really want to acknowledge that we were victimized — we want to look toward the future and how we can determine ourselves,” she said.