Monday marked a milestone for the City of Moscow — one especially important to the Native American, or Indigenous Peoples, in Latah County.
The former name, Columbus Day, is now recognized as Indigenous People’s Day following a 5-1 vote from Moscow City Council Oct. 2.
Indigenous people, and many others, gathered in celebration of this change in the University of Idaho Admin Auditorium Monday afternoon by bringing in a guest speaker, Pete Putra, who presented his speech “Indigenous Ideals and Beliefs for Peace.”
Sydel Samuels, a director at the Native American Student Center on campus and UI President Chuck Staben introduced Pete Putra to the stage.
“Today is a good opportunity for us to reflect on our history and what we now call Indigenous People’s Day here in Moscow,” Staben said. “Diversity shouldn’t be a slogan, it should be a goal that we try to achieve.”
Prior to Putra’s presentation, he discussed his goals for the presentation.
“Basically, the point of this presentation is to explore Native values,” Putra said. “Keep in mind, whenever I am asked to speak, I turn everything over to the creator and allow the audience to interpret so please listen carefully, and interpret as you will.”
Putra focused his speech on discussion of Columbus Day.
Putra’s presentation began with Native American history as told from his perspective, and said Christopher Columbus is not worth honoring.
“Christopher Columbus first came to this country and wrote back to Spain to tell his people all about how great the Indigenous people were. We were sophisticated and intelligent, but then the second time he visited, he reconsidered and wanted the Indigenous people to basically be slaves to him,” Putra said.
Putra said he is glad to be a part of a victory involving the rename of Columbus Day because it is one step closer to peace.
Putra’s speech transitioned to discussion of the values of Indigenous People and why it is important others learn them.
Putra discussed some common Indigenous beliefs which tie into other cultures and many ethical and moral codes the Indigenous community follows.
“We are not here to judge or demine we are here to talk about Indigenous people and share our values,” Putra said. “Values like sharing, patience and love. A wise man once told me those who teach, will learn — I hope to learn as I share with you all, these values.”
Putra captured his audience’s attention with poems, prayers, jokes and stories from his Indigenous roots.
“Several years after I got out of the service I was gifted a name — blue horse — it means peace runner, it is about more than just our history and our victory. Today is about spreading the word of peace,” Putra said.
A huge round of applause echoed through the auditorium as Putra ended his presentation.
“Ultimately, peace can be obtained by the values we spoke of and it can also be obtained within ourselves,” Putra said. “Love was lost among our people and now we can find that value again, I hope that love finds everyone as it should on this day.”
Kilty Ellis can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org