Caption: Indian Education Program Assistant Shelby Maerz stands alongside Student Representative Madison Cole, Parent Advisory Committee Representative Ulana Cole and School Board Chairperson Marty Heyen to accept the signed proclamation for Native American Heritage Month.

At its meeting Tuesday night, the Salem-Keizer Public Schools (SKPS) Board of Directors started the meeting with a land acknowledgement reading and unanimously approved the “Native American Heritage Month” proclamation. This is the first year the Board of Directors has started a meeting with a land acknowledgement reading.

Native American Heritage Month is observed in November to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures and traditions of America’s indigenous peoples. It is a time to recognize the important contributions and roles of Native Americans and Alaska Natives. The observance began in 1983 and was expanded by President George H. W. Bush in 1990.

In part, the proclamation states, “Whereas, the school board promotes closing the equity and attendance gaps for Native Americans and Alaska Natives through policies and practices that reflect the experiences of Indigenous Peoples, ensure greater access and opportunity and honor our country’s indigenous roots, history and contributions and the school board commits to creating successful educational outcomes for our Native American, Alaska Native and Indigenous students.”

There are nearly 1,700 students in SKPS who identify as Native American/Alaska Native.

Members of the Indian Education Parent Advisory Committee were present to receive the proclamation.

“It is a privilege to recognize and celebrate our Native American and Alaska Native students, staff and community,” said Superintendent Christy Perry. “We have an amazing Indian Education program and an active Parent Advisory Committee who work together to advocate for our students, enrich their learning and build cultural connections that are so important for creating a sense of belonging.”

To view the proclamation, click here.

To view the land acknowledgement statement, click here.