Whitties hold community potluck to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Charlotte Elliott, Campus Life Editor

Brought together by tasty food, great music and community fun, Whitman staff and students celebrated Indigenous Peoples’ Day in style with a potluck at the Glover Alston Center (GAC).

The celebration was organized by the Indigenous Peoples’ Education and Culture Club (IPECC), the Pacific Islander Club (PIC), Black Student Union (BSU) and the Students for Justice in Palestine Club (SJP). Attendees were asked to bring a dish to contribute to the celebration, many of whom chose to bring traditional Indigenous dishes.

The potluck, held on Oct. 10, offered a chance for people to have fun and celebrate, while also retaining the importance of teaching non-Indigenous students about the food they eat every day and the land that they are on. 

Makaya Resner recently joined the Whitman community as the Assistant Director of Admission. Resner shared that she is Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) and was not sure if there were any celebrations happening on campus for Indigenous Peoples’ Day until she was told about the potluck by senior Cheysen Cabuyadao-Sipe.

“I’ve celebrated since I started college. We typically do anything around food, but it’s mostly important to just be around people,” Resner said. “Especially for college students who are away from home, it is important to build a community.”

Cabuyadao-Sipe was one of the hosts of the evening as a member in IPECC and PIC, and he spent much of the event cooking and teaching others how to prepare different dishes. Cabuyadao-Sipe’s chicken adobo dish was a particular favorite among guests.

Cabuyadao-Sipe saw the potluck as a way to bring other campus clubs together for a celebration of Indigenous culture.

“It is really important for me to think about indigeneity from a global angle, which is why we like to include other campus clubs,” Cabuyadao-Sipe said. “Indigenous Peoples’ Day is really important and everyone should educate themselves, but it is also a time for people to celebrate and be proud of where they come from and have fun [at] a potluck.”

Despite its focus on Whitman’s Indigenous community, the potluck was open to any Whitman staff or student who wished to contribute to the celebrations.

“Things like this are open to everyone, as people are sharing things from their family or their cultural background,” Resner said. “It is good that events are led by Indigenous students, but it is also good that others come to learn about the food they are eating and why it is important.”

First-year student Elizabeth Bisno is not part of the Indigenous community; however, she saw the potluck as a chance to learn more about different cultures and join in with the celebrations.

“I saw the flyer and wanted to come and celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day. I thought it would be a good chance to come and learn about the culture,” Bisno said. “I tried this drink that Simone [Calero] brought; it’s made with purple corn and mixed with spices like cinnamon and whole cloves.”

Bisno joined in on the spirit of the potluck and tried her hand at a new recipe.

“I wanted to bring something that I made, so I brought these cookies called Autumn Harvest Cookies,” Bisno said. “There’s no way the ingredients are fully authentic, but I tried my best.”

The potluck was a huge success. There was a great turnout of attendees who spent the evening mingling in the kitchen, dining room and outside where tables and chairs had been set up. The event provided an opportunity to meet new people, try new food and celebrate Indigenous culture in an evening of fun and good music.