Native American Day Counter-Celebrated


Gwiwon Jason Nam

Terryl Bratek stands in front of a plaque commemorating the Caddo Indians that once settled this area.

Gwiwon Jason Nam, Staff Reporter

Most of Texas A&M University Commerce students might consider October 10 as Columbus Day. However, not for Native Americans. Native Americans consider the second Monday of October as Native American Day (also known as Indigenous Peoples’ Day). It began as a counter-celebration to Columbus Day, promoting Native American’ culture and commemorating the history of the Native American peoples.

Texas A&M University Commerce Academic Success Center Administrative Assistant Ⅱ, Terryl Bratek is of mixed Native American, black and Scotch-Irish ancestry, and her mother taught her all three cultures and that none is better than the other.  

She explained the importance of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, “Because all of this land was indigenous land. Some people says Indian, and some people says Native American and some people say indigenous people, but people are wanting to call it Indigenous day.”

There have been a number of efforts in the Americas and elsewhere to honor American Indians as part of Columbus Day, or by designating two holidays for the same date.

“We are not just from the history book, because some people still would say Native American as just tribes. As you can see, I have a job. We have jobs such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, and even actors,” she said.

She introduced the Native American’ ceremony, Pow Wow is one of Native American cultures as a celebration and gathering. “We had it here two years ago. Pow Wow is a feasting, singing, and dancing, it is celebration of culture.”

There is biggest Pow Wow on Nov. 5 in Texas. Also, there will be exhibit about Native American named “Native Voices” at the Gee Library on April 26th to June 7th 2017. It is an exhibition about Native people’ concepts of health and illness.

According to the Website, it is about the interconnectedness of wellness, illness, and cultural life for Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. Visitors will discover how Native concepts of health and illness are closely tied to the concepts of community, spirit, and the land.

“You can find Native American’ vestiges here in Commerce,” she said. “First, Northeast Texas was actually Caddo Indians areas. You can see a sign near the main door of the library that is around the grassy area. Many students even don’t realize that there is a sign, but it is about how Northeast Texas was actually Caddo Indians areas,” she said.

“Second, Andria Yarbrough, she already graduated school last year, but she is full blooded Native American and she donated Choctaw flag to the International Student Service & Scholars office.”

Choctaw is one of Native American tribes.  

She wants A&M Commerce students to know about Native American cultures. “We have a radio program. Albert Old Crow, he has a show called “Beyond Bows and Arrows” KNON 89.3 FM on Sunday 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., if you are interested in Native Americans, you can listen his show,” she said.