Monday Moments with President Bergman: October 11, 2021

Gustavus President Rebecca M. Bergman shares her thoughts with College students, faculty, and staff each week.
Posted on October 11th, 2021 by

President Rebecca M. Bergman

It was a busy weekend on campus, and I was happy to participate in many of the activities associated with Family Weekend, from the dedication of the Steve and Barbara Wilkinson Tennis Complex, to volleyball matches, the Arboretum Fall Fest, and Showcase Concerts featuring nine musical ensembles. It was exhilarating to see families and friends here on campus enjoying time together and appreciating the talents and accomplishments of our students. Well done, students!  And many thanks to the faculty and staff who organized events and provided that fabulous brand of Gustavus hospitality to all our guests.

Today is Indigenous Peoples’ Day. We honor and celebrate the cultures, histories, and contributions of Native peoples in our region and across the United States. On October 8, 2021, President Biden issued a Proclamation on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, 2021. It is worth reading in its entirety, but here are several excerpts for all of us to reflect on throughout the day and the week ahead:

…Our country was conceived on a promise of equality and opportunity for all people — a promise that, despite the extraordinary progress we have made through the years, we have never fully lived up to.  That is especially true when it comes to upholding the rights and dignity of the Indigenous people who were here long before colonization of the Americas began.  For generations, Federal policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures.  Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples’ resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society.  We also recommit to supporting a new, brighter future of promise and equity for Tribal Nations — a future grounded in Tribal sovereignty and respect for the human rights of Indigenous people in the Americas and around the world.

…We must never forget the centuries-long campaign of violence, displacement, assimilation, and terror wrought upon Native communities and Tribal Nations throughout our country.  Today, we acknowledge the significant sacrifices made by Native peoples to this country — and recognize their many ongoing contributions to our Nation.

On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we honor America’s first inhabitants and the Tribal Nations that continue to thrive today.  I encourage everyone to celebrate and recognize the many Indigenous communities and cultures that make up our great country.

On September 14, I announced the formation of a new Gustavus council at the Institutional level — the President’s Council on Indigenous Relations (PCIR). I look forward to working with a leadership group and the entire Gustavus community to critically examine the historical connections with Indigenous people in our region, acknowledge injustices, engage in educational opportunities, build new connections and relationships, and chart a meaningful path forward. In all we do, we remain committed to our Mission, which states that we are a “community of persons from diverse backgrounds who respect and affirm the dignity of all people.” These are powerful words a commitment that guides our relationships with all people on our campus and in our local community not just some people, but all people; not just some of the time, but all the time. This is the Gustavus we are called to be.’

This week will provide rich opportunities to reflect on and engage in the College’s ongoing work to build a welcoming and inclusive community. I invite you to join me at 10 a.m. today at Sesquicentennial Plaza as Daily Sabbath commemorates Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and tonight at 8 p.m. in the Heritage room for a conversation about the College’s Indigenous Relations work moving forward.

Yours in community,

President Bergman


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