Students and community members eat, drink and break cultural boundaries at the Home Away From Home Potluck that kicked off Indigenous Peoples' Week in the fall 2019 semester. | Photo by Thomas Lal

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Home Away From Home potluck kicks off Indigenous Peoples Week.
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Home Away From Home potluck kicks off Indigenous Peoples’ Week

Arcata is home to the Wiyot Tribe and Humboldt State University sits on Wiyot land. The Home Away From Home Potluck is one example of the community’s attempt to welcome all members to interact and is a fun, inclusive way to start Indigenous Peoples’ Week.

The second Monday of October has become an opportunity to counter-protest Columbus Day. Along with a celebration of Native Americans, their history on this land and their culture, Indigenous Peoples’ Week highlights the customs of indigenous peoples and acknowledges the years suffering.

Arcata Mayor Brett Watson spoke on some of the actions the city has taken in order to support local Native Americans. Watson spoke of a proclamation from 2016 where Arcata officially recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

“The university is our lifeblood and we see the diversity of the student body as a positive. We welcome students of all backgrounds.”

Wesley Chesbro

“Just on October 2, we did a resolution affirming our support for a United Nations resolution,” Watson said. “Acknowledging the rights of Indigenous people around the world.”

The inclusion and acceptance of Native Americans’ history is one way that the community is attempting to reach out to students of all ethnicities. Wesley Chesbro, local volunteer and HSU alumnus, believes the potluck is inviting and feels like home for students.

“What we hope happens is students will sit down with community members and develop relationships,” Chesbro said. “The university is our lifeblood and we see the diversity of the student body as a positive. We welcome students of all backgrounds.”

The Home Away from Home potluck is more than it’s food, it’s about a sense of welcome. The goal, according to Equitable Arcata’s Communications Chair Cati Gallardo, is racial equity.

“The Home Away From Home potluck started as a way to let students know they’re loved by the community,” Gallardo said. “We love our students and some of the feedback we received stated how we need to make a change in Arcata. Folks were feeling it wasn’t a racially equitable community and we wanted to change that.”

Skits from based off the 1490s were performed by a Native American comedy group. The potluck consists of community members coming together to donate food and local businesses offer gifts for raffle prizes as well as warm winter clothing donated by locals for students who may need them.

Other events for Indigenous Peoples’ Week include highlights of HSU’s Native American programs. The Native Forum provided guests with a geographical exposure to local tribes on Monday. Professor Rain Archambeau-Marshall is hosting a showing of Dodging Bullets followed by a post-film discussion on Wed., Oct. 16. The Native American Center will also hold an open house Friday, Oct. 18, where they will play Cards for Decolonization. To find out more information go to humboldt.edu or itepp.humboldt.edu.

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