SUU Celebrates Indigenous People’s Day

On Oct. 12, the Native American Student Association celebrated Indigenous People’s Day in the Living Room from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The event hosted a variety of native dances and was filled with music and celebration throughout the two hours. Lead singer Justin Secakuku, an alumnus of Southern Utah University, intervened between performances to address the audience and share information about the dances and those performing. 

“We wanted to show that we are still here. Especially in Cedar City, not a lot of people know that there is a Paiute Tribe here,” said Mahala Sutherland, the current President of NASA. 

Sutherland is a junior at SUU studying sociology and psychology and has been a member of the club since her freshman year,  previously serving as the secretary. 

This was NASA’s first time putting on the event and have been working to plan it since last May, according to Sutherland. 

“My biggest hope was just to get our name out there and educate people about Indigenous People’s Day because we don’t celebrate Columbus Day,” said Sutherland. 

The dancers that participated are both students at Southern Utah University and members of NASA. The performers included Ericka Hill, Samantha Begaye, Shante Israel, Jeremy Garcia, Sutherland, Christian White and Kyle Secakuku, who demonstrated dances such as the Hopi Eagle Dance and Jingle Dress Dance. 

Secakuku shared with the audience how the drums are made and what the beat of the drum represents. 

“Traditionally a tree stump will be cut and hollowed out and covered with animal hide,” said Secakuku. “We pay homage to these different natural forces such as the trees, the animals and the heartbeat. Every time you hear the drum, it represents the heartbeat of nature.”

On Nov. 2-6, NASA will celebrate Native American Heritage Week. On the last day of the week, there will be a Native American showcase and Miss Native SUU at 6 p.m. in the Great Hall. 

NASA “welcomes and supports all native tribes and welcomes all SUU students to join the club,” according to The club meets every other Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Sharwan Smith Student Center in room 101C.

For more information, follow the SUU Native American Student Association on Facebook or @nasa_suu on Instagram. Sutherland is also available to contact via email at


Story by: Elizabeth Armstrong
Photos by: Elizabeth Armstrong