Indigenous peoples have lived along the coasts, on the islands, and in the mountains of California for thousands of years. The Chumash Nation, specifically, has always believed that “all things are alive, intelligent, dangerous and sacred.”
Since our founding in 1974, Fielding Graduate University has been physically located in Santa Barbara, where the Chumash Nation and its ancestors’ tribes and bands have lived for centuries. In addition to Santa Barbara, this California Indigenous Nation has roots in San Luis Obispo, Ventura, Malibu, and the Channel Islands.
In acknowledgment of the past genocide and present injustices perpetuated on all indigenous peoples in the Americas, we stand with the Chumash Nation of our community as well as with all Indigenous peoples across the nation and world. As an educational institution, it is part of who we are to maintain our commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion of our Indigenous peoples through sustained learning that leads to change.
In 2021, President Joe Biden proclaimed the second Monday of every October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, making it the first time a sitting President has formally recognized Indigenous peoples. Last year, on behalf of the University, I stood with that action, issuing a university-wide proclamation to advocate for the Indigenous peoples here and throughout the world. Taking a stand is one step in raising collective voices and upholding Fielding values within our diverse society.
Fielding Graduate University pledges its full support and recognition for this year’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Monday, October 10. This second-annual day of remembrance commemorates the rich cultures and multidimensional history of our Indigenous peoples now and into the future. We will always honor Fielding’s recognition of the original stewards of the lands in which we now live, work, and learn. Earlier this year, we created, together with Navajo Nation leaders, the Fielding-Navajo Nation Conference hosted in Window Rock, Arizona, to celebrate the research of our indigenous students. To date, nearly 30 Navajo students have graduated through Fielding’s Educational Leadership and Change doctoral program and are enacting systemic change in Navajo communities. Several publications through our Fielding University Press also delve into the cultures and histories of Indigenous peoples. Fielding and the Navajo Nation are growing our partnership to invite new students into our community, and we are also seeking out new partnerships with Indigenous communities.
To us, this is more than just a day. It’s an intention to change our thinking and create a new way of life that is part of our vision of Fielding: that graduate education advances social and ecological justice. There is still more work to do. Fielding vows to continue expanding our full-fledged support of Indigenous peoples by frequently updating our curricula, maintaining strong relationships with current and prospective Indigenous students, offering scholarships and other financial assistance, promoting the cultures and worldviews of Indigenous communities through our Fielding University Press, expanding ecological knowledge and more.
Today and all year long, we come together to recognize the past, present, and future of all Indigenous communities. To our Indigenous peoples, thank you for your contributions to knowledge and to your resilience in a society that has not been kind.
Together, we can deepen our understanding and lead change for a more just, sustainable world.
Katrina S. Rogers, Ph.D.