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OU SGA President will sign Indigenous Peoples' Day resolution

Indigenize OU

From left: Sydne Gray, philosophy sophomore, Josh Murphy, health and exercise science senior, Jesse Robbins, Native American studies senior and Ashley McCray, History of Science Program doctoral student pose together after Tuesday night's SGA Congress meeting. The resolution to have the university recognize the second Monday in October as Indigenous People's Day was stalled at the Tuesday night meeting.

After OU President David Boren announced he intends to sign the Indigenous Peoples' Day resolution, Student Government Association President Alex Byron said she intends to sign the resolution to recognize Indigenous Peoples' Day on Oct. 12.

“I do intend to sign the resolution. In light of what happened yesterday and how it’s getting sent back to senate and the timeline’s being pushed back by a week, the day we would actually be signing it would be Columbus Day or the day in which Indigenize OU wishes to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day on campus,” Byron said.

This past week, Indigenize OU has worked with SGA to pass this piece of legislation and educate the OU students about native culture and history. The proposition was unanimously passed in the senate on Sunday and agreed upon in the Congress meeting this last Tuesday.

However, the language, or the wording, of the bill was amended to better represent the comfort levels and lack of a welcoming environment on campus for native students. Due to this, the resolution has to travel back to the senate meeting to approve the new language.

The original language of the proposition was “whereas the state of Oklahoma has the second largest population of indigenous people in the nation and since 2012 the enrollment rate of Native American students at OU has decreased significantly, demonstrating the lack of welcoming environment and resources available for native students.”

The amendment changed the language to "whereas the state of Oklahoma has the second largest population of indigenous people in the nation and whereas the University of Oklahoma aims to recruit, serve and retain indigenous students, faculty and staff, Indigenous Peoples’ Day will contribute to creating a welcoming environment and informing students of available resources."

The meeting to present this amended resolution to Graduate Student Senate is on Oct. 11. 

Upon the passing of the legislation, Indigenous Peoples’ Day will be officially recognized on campus, celebrating native culture, educating the OU community and, as members of Indigenize OU said, instill trust within the community. 

After the signing of the resolution by the president of SGA, it would move to Boren. If he signs the bill, as he said he would, it would become a university law.

"We discussed today, more steps that need to be taken in the future. I support the effort to use the day recognized by national officials as Columbus Day, to instead be celebrated at OU in the future as Indigenous People’s Day. When the Student Congress completes action, I will approve their resolution and work with our student leaders to hold a daylong celebration of native culture on campus, including food, dance, the arts and culture and special lectures to more broadly educate our total community about Native American history," Boren said in a statement.

"I'm really pleased he's passing Indigenous Peoples Day, I'm really grateful he's stating Native issues of importance. I think he's doing a lot to credit the university and himself … for Indigenous People here," said Ashley McCray, one of the four leaders of Indigenize OU.

A group of activists recently tried to establish Indigenous Peoples' Day in Oklahoma City, but that resolution failed with a 4-4 vote in the Oklahoma City Council, according to KFOR.

The council members said they just weren't ready yet, McCray said. 

Brianna Sims is a journalism freshman and news reporter at the Daily.

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