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Center for Sovereign Nations celebrates Indigenous Heritage

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NASA President Jasmine Phetsacksith and NASA Vice President MaCaylin Autobo on October 12, 2020 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

The Center for Sovereign Nations hosted an event to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day Monday.

Indigenous Peoples day originated as a counter celebration of Columbus day. The day moved from the week before Columbus day to the same day when Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed legislation last year. The law did not replace Columbus day. 

Held on the lawn of Life Science East, the event featured a booth from the Native American Student Association (NASA), stickball and cornhole.

NASA President Jasmine Phetsacksith, a member of the Osage nation, said it is important to celebrate her heritage every day but she took advantage of the day to connect with her heritage.

“Everyone at the center really takes pride in who they are,” Phetsacksith said. “It’s a way for us to be seen. A lot of times the Native population gets left out of the conversation.”

MaCaylin Autaubo, the vice president of NASA, said she wants to use her platform as a campus leader to make the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes, to which she belongs, proud.

“It’s a great way to let people know that we’re still here,” Autaubo said. “To let people know that we’re still doing all the things that we’ve been brought up to do.

Miko Brandon, a member of the Chickasaw tribe, uses stickball to connect with his heritage. Stickball is played by members of the Cherokee, Muscogee-Creek, Seminole, Choctaw and Chickasaw tribes.

Brandon said when the center plays stickball, they play a social version of the game, where a cutout of a fish is attached to the top of a pole and players try to hit it with the ball to earn their team a point. Traditionally, women would use their hands while men used sticks, but today, women can use sticks as well.

Another version of stickball is played with two teams of 30 players each. This version is more competitive, and is played in inter-tribal tournaments. Stickball is also called Kapucha Toli, which means “Little brother of war.”

“It’s traditionally been used to solve intertribal or family disputes,” Brandon said.

Catherine White is a member of the Choctaw tribe and is Center Support. She said Indigenous Peoples day is important because it allows time to reflect on her ancestors and her history.

“We are still here reclaiming our Native truth,” she said. “Even though it’s 2020 and things aren’t the same, we’re still out here playing stickball and listening to pow-wow music.”