‘It was their land first’
Chiloquin High School senior Hannah Schroeder believes education on the true history of tribal nations is key to an ongoing healing process.
“Since time immemorial, our tribal nations have occupied and cared for this land that we call the state of Oregon, and it’s important now more than ever for indigenous people in the state and across Indian country to be recognized for the contribution to society,” she said during a speech Monday at a dedication ceremony to permanently display the flags of the nine federally recognized tribes of Oregon in the Learning Resource Center at Oregon Tech.
More than 20 of her Chiloquin classmates attended the ceremony. The nine flags included that of Schroeder’s tribe, the Klamath Tribes, which represent the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin. “It is the hope of the Klamath Tribes Youth Council that this flag display will prompt students to ask questions and learn more about the first and true stewards of this land, the indigenous people of Oregon,” she said.
Schroeder, co-president of the Klamath Tribes Youth Council, was among members of the Klamath Tribes and the Burns Paiute Tribe who spoke during the event. The flag dedication ceremony was part of a day-long second annual Indigenous People’s Day Celebration on the Oregon Tech campus.
Molly Swedensky and Kenzi Cheek, both Chiloquin seniors, said Indigenous People’s Day needs to be celebrated. “I think it’s a big deal because the tribes deserve recognition,” Cheek said. “It was their land first.” Swedensky agreed. “It’s long overdue. It needed to happen a lot sooner.”
This year, Chiloquin Junior-Senior High School’s 11th -grade history and government class, and 12th-grade senior seminar students traveled from Chiloquin for the event. In the past, a smaller group attended and most were tribal members, Schroeder said. About 60 percent of the school’s 120-member student body is Native American.
“The school usually only brings the Native American youth,” she said. “This year, the whole class came. It’s cool because we can show them our culture.”
Christina Rubidoux, a counselor at the Chiloquin high school and a member of the Klamath Tribes, helped organize the trip. “I think it was a good idea to bring the 11th -grade class because they’re studying history and government right now,” she said. “They need to be learning about sovereignty.”
Schroeder shares the Klamath Tribes Youth Council presidency with her brother, Orville, a freshman at Chiloquin. The council is the voice of the area’s tribal youth and often weighs in on social and political issues.
“We come together to talk about problems in our community and how we can fix those problems,” she said. Oct. 14, formerly known as Columbus Day, was declared as Indigenous People’s Day for the state of Oregon.
The first Oregon Indigenous People’s Day proclamation was issued in 2017 after pressure by a group of Klamath Tribal youth, later to become the first Klamath Tribes Youth Council, to declare the holiday in order to educate Oregon citizens about the history behind Christopher Columbus and his acts, which are considered to be the first forms of colonization and genocide against indigenous people of the North American continent.