Monday, Oct. 11, 2021

Dear UNT Community,

This week, in honor of Indigenous Peoples Day, UNT celebrates and honors the history and culture of Native Americans and indigenous peoples, including those who played an important role in our university's history. UNT is built on land formerly occupied by the Wichita and Caddo Affiliated Tribes, and owes its existence, in part, to its first group of indigenous students. Our second class in the fall of 1890 was made up of 131 students, including 28 Muscogee Creek students from the Indian Territory, known today as Oklahoma. Those students' presence was critical in achieving sufficient enrollment, which allowed the university to continue offering classes.

In the 131 years since then, our enrollment has grown to more than 42,000 students from diverse backgrounds. In celebration of our Native American and indigenous students, we are designating Tuesday, Oct. 12, as UNT Indigenous Peoples Day.

I invite you to join UNT's Native American Student Association for an Indigenous Peoples Day celebration from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12, on the Union South Lawn. In addition to Native foods, music, art, games, and prizes, the event will include information about specific tribes, Native American boarding schools, and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People epidemic, as well as performances from NASA members.

We should listen to their stories and honor the heritage of our Native American students, faculty, and staff. Earlier this year, the United Nations celebrated International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples with a call to “leave no one behind.” At UNT, we are committed to helping all students, including those who are Native and indigenous, thrive to achieve their goals.

UNT Proud, Neal Smatresk UNT President