FLC stands with Indigenous peoples

October 20, 2020

In 2016, Fort Lewis College followed the lead of the City of Durango in designating the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples Day — an effort led by FLC alumna, Ruthie Edd. This is a day when we honor and recognize our Native American and Alaska Native students, faculty, and staff, along with their rich cultures, resiliency, and contributions to our country. This is a day to recognize our historical beginning as a boarding school that has led to our present and future as a Native American-serving institution. Last Monday, we had a wonderful and colorful march on campus, and I want to thank everyone who peacefully participated in this celebration and the march in downtown Durango. Our choice to celebrate this day serves as a clear signal that we acknowledge the genocide that is part of the founding of the United States. In addition to acknowledging past atrocities, we seek to support the voices of our students, faculty, and staff who show pride and bring honor to who they are.

As an institution, we stand with our Native American students. As president for FLC, I have no ambiguity around that. Given this, I was disappointed to hear that at the march downtown FLC community members were subjected to obscene gestures and taunted for celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day. I also was made aware that the FLC App had a series of postings that did not reflect respect or civility toward others.

While everyone is entitled to expression, I implore our community to uphold civility and positive discourse with your peers. We should always strive for understanding and to respect and empathize with each other — not personally attack one another. The best of what I have seen at Fort Lewis gives me hope that we can rise above uninformed personal attacks and instead deeply and respectfully engage in the issues we care about.

Given the recent misuse of posting messages and comments in the FLC App, our administration is working with ASFLC to create guidelines for posting in the app that align with our Student Code of Conduct. If you see any egregious postings, please contact David Pirrone.

It’s important that we learn from this moment and learn from each other. Especially in the coming weeks as we approach the general election, let’s be mindful that we are a community where dignity and respect are paramount to our educational journeys.

If there’s anything more I can do to support you, just reach out.

Best, Tom


Tom Stritikus
Fort Lewis College