Dia de Los Muertos


Dia De Los Muertos | Sam Jackson for The Eastener

By Sam Jackson, Reporter

Student Marcella Godina shows of her altar dedicated to painter Frida Kahlo at the Day of the Dead event. Ten different organizations and clubs participated in the festivities | Sam Jackson for The Easterner

EWU organizations and departments gathered together to put on a Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) event, celebrating the lives of those who were victims of the Mexico earthquake, murdered transgender people, painter Frida Kahlo and many others.

Day of the Dead is a festivity based on indigenous practices that come from different places of Latin America, especially places with a strong indigenous presence. About 10 different organizations and clubs participated in the event including the Chicana/o Studies Program, Phi Alpha Theta, Eagle Pride, NASA, MEChA and more. Over 300 participants flowed into the event learning and observing the customs of Day of the Dead.

“It is a celebration where we honor and welcome our ancestors,” said Dr. Nydia A. Martinez, Assistant Professor for the Department of History in the Chicana/o Studies Program. “It is believed that, during this time period, our ancestors come to visit us, and we are here to welcome them. So there is a connection between our ancestors and the living, they come together in one space.”

It is part of the Latino community’s tradition to honor this event, but it’s also a way to make a statement on behalf of Latin America.

“In this moment it’s really important for us to share our culture with the larger community because we are part of the United States and we are part of this community,” said Dr. Martinez. “We wanted to share and contribute to what we are bringing into the conversation. This is a moment where, unfortunately, the political redirect is very strong in anti-Latino and anti-immigrant, so this is an opportunity for us to show something that is different to what other people see.”

The JFK Library was decorated with papel picado (brightly colored paper banners) that are chiseled with designs of skulls and flowers. Candles, pictures and Day of the Dead bread were essentials that sat on top of the altars. The altars there represented the lives of those who were lost due to the earthquake in Mexico.

“We got a grant from the Board of Trustees to be able to spend money for this event,” said Sarahi Gutierrez, student coordinator for the event. “So we were able to import things from Mexico. A lot of the things that you see here are actually from Mexico, and a local business there that was affected by the earthquake.”

Day of the Dead is not about grieving or crying over those whom have passed, but honoring their lives.

“We have to celebrate life and with that we celebrate our loved ones, we keep their spirit alive,” said Marcella Godina, a student involved in the event and the Frida Kahlo altar.  “Hopefully by the next generations they keep our spirits alive. So, honestly Day of the Dead is a happy celebration of life and death. We shouldn’t be scared of it because it’s natural.”

The importance of this event ran deeper than simply celebrating Day of the Dead, it granted the opportunity for participants and other organizations outside of the Chicana/o culture to be a part of it.

An altar at the day of the Day of the Dead event dedicated to victims of the recent earthquakes in Mexico | Sam Jackson for The Easterner

“The mission for this event is creating community in the broader sense, bringing people from all places to learn and share the Latino/Chicano culture,” said Dr. Martinez. “Educating people on one of the most important traditions within our culture, [and] to rescue and preserve our culture that is part of the Eastern community and the broader community. Giving the opportunity for other organizations, like NASA and Eagle Pride groups, to share who they want to honor.”