BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Virginia Tech observes Indigenous Peoples Day every year, and recently formalized its land acknowledgment. “Virginia Tech acknowledges that we live and work on the Tutelo / Monacan People’s homeland,” says the statement, which also promises to increase the number of Indigenous students and staff at the school.

This year, Tech hosted art exhibits, like the “We’re Still Here” student collection, that showcases collages based on Native students’ interests, passions, and concerns and how they intersect with their heritage.

“Spirit is Alive, Magic is Afoot” featured Indigenous artist Laurie Steelink, a citizen of the Akimel O’otham Nation in Arizona, and local Monacan artist Victoria Ferguson.

“It’s just really nice to see a part of our culture and history there, somewhere that’s within our homelands,” said Desiree Shelley, a member of the Monacan Indian Nation and a Virginia Tech Graduate student. Shelley says even before she started attending Tech, she would come to the school because it’s one of few places in our area that host Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations. She brought her two daughters to see the art by their friend Ferguson.

“I think it made them feel special to see it in a big museum, their work, and that the work we do as an indigenous people is also valued,” she said.

Tech ended Indigenous Peoples Day with a lecture by Winona LaDuke. She’s an economist and environmentalist from the White Earth Indian Reservation in Minnesota and spoke at the Moss Arts Center about the future of agriculture and the economy, arguing that sustainable land use, practiced for thousands of years by Indigenous peoples, can be applied today to save us from climate change.