by Alyssa Fountain ’15
Ignored among most American institutions, First Nations people tend to strive to find a voice and stick together. Vicky Murray, a junior at Pacific Lutheran University, now spearheads a new initiative to encourage diversity and raise awareness of issues faced by First Nations and indigenous peoples. This is not an easy task, and Murray strives to fight for her initiative.
Murray herself is a First Nation person from the Rose Bud Sioux tribe and the Bad River Band of the Chippewa tribe. Murray grew up on the Puyallup Reservation. “When I came to campus I encountered a lot of culture-shock,” said Murray when asked about her relation to students at PLU.
Murray recently began a First Peoples club on campus, which has caught the attention of six students. Currently, they discuss issues pertaining to First Nations in North America and attend events relating to these groups.
The First Peoples club aims to increase awareness of Indigenous people and to provide them a space where they can have a voice. Murray identifies an indigenous person as someone descended from people who lived in an area before others settled there.
Murray’s club addresses the differences between First Peoples and the general society. Citing recent peaceful protests that ended with police brutality in Canada, Murray attempts to make sense out of how people relate. As an indigenous student, she claims, one is often overlooked and not treated with as much dignity. They have little voice, which simply is not acceptable in Murray’s eyes.
This handling of First Nations is an issue everywhere, especially including Australia where the Aboriginal people have been so severely oppressed. In fact, the treatment of indigenous peoples everywhere is such an issue that the UN included reciprocation in its Millennium Development Goals. Australia is working towards this on a steady basis.
Among the challenges faced by the First Nations is poor treatment of the tribal land. Murray is concerned by the poverty overwhelming the traditional lands. She made reference to all of the starving children living on tribal lands and to the violence that takes place in her area of town. It is easy for these things to be overlooked, prompting Murray’s attempt to give a voice to those who are unheard.
The First People’s club makes an effort to take people to events that celebrate their heritage such as the powwow Murray is taking her group to at 4:00 pm on Saturday. Over the next month the club will offer a movie panel, a trip to the powwow, and an indigenous craft night in honor of Native American History Month.
“We want to provide resources for anyone who is interested in learning about Global indigenous people. I want to emphasize global because even though thus far we have focused on Native Americans/ Canadians We want to learn about cultures from around the world,” Murray said.