Around 100 Bemidji State students, faculty, staff and others gathered at the American Indian Resource Center for its ceremonial Day of Welcome on August 24, the center’s kickoff to the 2022-23 academic year.
Chrissy Downwind, executive director of the American Indian Resource Center, welcomed attendees by sharing a traditional Ojibwe teaching about new beginnings that follow rain storms, one of which passed through Bemidji earlier that morning.
“Rain always comes before there’s something new. That rain comes and washes all that old and all that bad stuff off this earth for a new start,” Downwind said. “This is our new beginning today.”
President John Hoffman spoke to the significance of place for not only Indigenous students, but all those who study at, work for or are otherwise connected to BSU and Bemidji as a whole.
“The connection of people to land is something we all experience,” he said. “The spiritual and physical caretakers of this land are such an important part of our experience.”
Following a traditional welcome song rendered by Red Lake Nation’s Eyabay drum group, White Earth Nation member Michael Dahl shared anecdotes from his personal educational journey from graduating from Cass Lake-Bena High School to learning more about himself, his classmates and the world around him through the lens of being only one of five Indigenous students his first year at Concordia College in Moorhead.
The event wrapped up with a meal of wild rice and a student resource fair in the AIRC’s Great Room with several campus offices including sustainability, career services, student health and more in attendance.