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Most of the United States knows the second Monday of October, a federal holiday since 1934, as Columbus Day.
Because of a national debate about whether Christopher Columbus, the Italian explorer who landed on American shores, is worthy of celebration, Brown University has instead called the holiday Fall Weekend since 2009.
On February 2nd, however, the university faculty renamed the holiday once again — this time to Indigenous People’s Day.
“In discussions prior to the vote, faculty expressed their support for the name change as an opportunity to show support for Native Americans on our campus and beyond, and to celebrate Native American culture and history,” Thomas Roberts, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, said in a statement.
Several cities and states across the United States have already renamed the holiday, including Berkeley, Calif., which had its first Indigenous Peoples Day in 1992. (Although they seem to agree with one another on the sentiment, they don’t agree on the apostrophe. Brown said it would celebrate Indigenous People’s Day; Minneapolis celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day; while Seattle celebratesIndigenous Peoples’ Day.)
In Hawaii, the holiday is known as Discoverers’ Day, and it’s Native Americans’ Day in South Dakota. Alaska renamed it Indigenous Peoples Day in 2015, while Washington State does not recognize Columbus Day as a legal holiday.
At Brown, faculty members were moved to act after a student organization, the Native Americans at Brown, called for the change after 2015’s Fall Weekend. The new name “would recognize the contributions of Indigenous People/Native Americans to our community and our culture and foster a more inclusive community,” according to a motion presented to the faculty.
The movement to rename the holiday is based on the contention that Columbus was no hero, but instead a deliverer of genocide to Native Americans. His legacy is the subject of endless debate.
Read more at: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/04/us/at-brown-university-columbus-day-is-now-indigenous-peoples-day.html?_r=0
By KELSEY FLOWER
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, a cohort of mainly Native students trudged from residence hall to residence hall, removing flyers encouraging students to “celebrate Columbus Day all year” with “vintage” apparel featuring the Dartmouth Indian.
“A lot of people were working so that when people woke up, they didn’t even know about it, because it was a very triggering image,” MOSAIC president Carene Mekertichyan ’16 said.
In reaction to the incident, groups from all over campus have expressed outrage at the act and support for the Native Americans at Dartmouth community. They encouraged students to submit a bias incident report in response.
College spokesperson Diana Laurence confirmed via email that the incident was reported to administrators as a bias incident.
NAD historian Bridget-Kate Sixkiller McNulty ’16 said that the NAD community saw the flyers and was directly involved in tearing them down.
Sixkiller McNulty said that the community is concerned, upset and disappointed about the incident, which it views as “completely unacceptable.”
“Some students do not feel safe on this campus,” she said. “It is horrifying that students do not feel safe on their own college campus, do not feel free to walk around because other students have decided to intimidate and scare them.”
She said that the NAD community recognizes the attacks for what they are — “a racially charged and violent attempt to scare Native students of this college.”
At the time of the incident, 56 high school seniors from around the country were visiting campus as part of the annual Native American Community Program.
Sixkiller McNulty said she thinks the flyering could have been planned to intimidate potential Native students and discourage them from coming to the school.
The flyers read, “Celebrate Columbus Day all year ’round with vintage Dartmouth Indian gear!” with the phrase “Columbus Day” crossed out and replaced with “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” They stated, “Native American and proud to be one? Hate political correctness? Love Dartmouth? Don’t want the Old Traditions to fail?” before advertising a CafePress website selling various apparel and other miscellaneous items featuring the Dartmouth Indian mascot.
The posting of the flyers followed a demonstration held by dozens of Native American students on Monday. Students stood on the Green and outside of Parkhurst Hall with signs bearing slogans such as “I am a survivor of genocide,” “This is Abenaki land” and “We are still here,” as well as “Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”
Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a proposed replacement for Columbus Day that recognizes the lives and history of North American indigenous tribes. The holiday originated in Berkeley, California, and several major American cities, such as Minneapolis, Seattle and Denver, now officially recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The entire state of Alaska also recognizes Indigenous People’s Day as of this October.
The College does not officially recognize Columbus Day, and regularly scheduled classes met on Monday.
Tuesday evening, Provost Carolyn Dever and Dean of the College Rebecca Biron co-signed an email to campus calling the distribution of flyers around campus “cowardly and disrespectful” and wrote that it is contradictory “our institutional commitment to supporting and maintaining an inclusive and respectful educational community.”
Dever and Biron called on community members behave in ways that “reflect our highest and best values” and “promote a positive living and learning environment for all.”
Shortly after, the Student Assembly sent a campus-wide email that called the incident a “premeditated act of racism” and stated that the Dartmouth community “cannot tolerate such deliberate acts of hate speech perpetrated by those who wish to intimidate or harm other students.”
Assembly spokesperson Justin Maffett ’16, who wrote the email sent by the Assembly, said that after hearing about the flyers, he immediately contacted other Assembly and NAD executives for an emergency meeting.
“It was clear that the community already felt vulnerable from previous events outside of their control earlier this term,” Maffett said. “To be put in a situation where they felt isolated and invisible was something that Student Assembly could not overlook and be a bystander to.”
Maffett said that the Assembly asked NAD members for input on the email sent out to campus, as well as for permission to speak on the subject, and circulated a draft to NAD members before sending it out to campus.
In the email, the Assembly wrote that a member of the NAD community was recently egged on campus, something they described as a “violent and destructive act.”
The Assembly wrote that in response to the incident, Safety and Security officers will be conducting additional rounds and walk-throughs at the Native American House and that Native students who feel unsafe can contact Safety and Security for temporary housing reassignments. Dick’s House counselors were also made available for any affected students.
Maffett said that in some respects, he thought those actions might have been redundant, as he expected administrators to make those resources available.
“I’m glad we went through with it, because in the end, the administration didn’t make those resources available on their own,” he said. “The important thing is that affected students have a support network available to them.”
Maffett said that he was surprised that administrators omitted safety measures from their message. He said the Assembly saw an opportunity to show students that they should feel confident they need not rely solely on administrators to speak out against clear acts of violence, hate speech and racism.
“We would like to create a space, an environment, a community, where we can rely on peer-to-peer accountability,” he said.
Assembly president Frank Cunningham ’16 said that he was “extremely upset,” not as Assembly president, but as a student.
“When I see premeditated acts of racism such as this one, it really does break my heart,” he said.
Cunningham called the sense of humor of students who found the flyers funny “disgusting.”
He said that while the Assembly supports the concept of free speech, “This was hate speech, and there’s a difference.”
Cunningham said that in the future, he thinks it is time for the entire community to have a serious conversation about what is acceptable.
The College chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural group Mosaic, the Panhellenic Council and the Pan Asian Council have also sent out campus-wide emails stating their solidarity with NAD.
Mekertichyan ’16 said that MOSAIC sent the email to “show that we stand by the Native community.”
She emphasized that MOSAIC does not have a specific movement, but is instead “standing in solidarity” with the Native community as allies.
“This is about people caring about human beings and the Native community that’s been so oppressed,” she said. “We stand behind them 100 percent.”
Cunningham and Mekertichyan both said that they looked to administrators to take further action.
Cunningham said that he definitely thinks administrators should investigate the incident.
“This is a time for the administration to act,” Cunningham said. “Student Assembly is more than happy to act and wants to act with them.”
The Assembly stated in its email that it calls on the administration to “open a full inquiry into this incident.”
“I would just like to see the administration take this seriously as a hate crime and work to find out who did this,” Mekertichyan said.
She added that she thought the email the Dever and Biron sent was very political in its wording.
“With our response, we wanted to be very real and stand by community,” she said.
Cunningham said that acting on this issue is not just a job for administrators, but also a job for the Assembly and larger community.
“All of us standing together will show whoever did this that it is unacceptable,” he said. “We can be the power, and we can be the voice to make sure that racist acts such as this never happen again.”
Mekertichyan was part of the group of students who spent much of Tuesday morning, from approximately 1:30 to 5 a.m., removing the flyers from residential halls across campus before students could wake up and see the “triggering image,” she said.
History and Native American studies professor Colin Calloway, who was chair of the Native American studies program for 12 years, said that these types of issues “crop up time and time again” at the College.
He characterized this incident as an instance where “malicious” and “offensive” actions are committed under the guise of freedom of speech.
Calloway said that this type of behavior “demeans all of us as an institution and a community, and goes against the grain of the type of community we are invoking and trying to build.”
Calloway said that this problem affects everyone at the College.
“This is not just a Native American problem, it is a Dartmouth problem,” he said.
Calloway, who has written a book on the history of Native Americans at Dartmouth, said that Native American history is essential to the history of the College.
“[Native Americans] are as integral a part of the Dartmouth tradition as you can get,” he said.
The College was established by money raised by a Native American and would not have been established here and in 1769 had it not been for that Native American, he said. The original College charter commits the College to providing education to the youth of Native American tribes.
In 1970, then-College President John Kemeny announced that 200 years after the College’s pledge to provide this education, he was recommitting the institution to its founding pledge. Since then, Native students have been actively recruited, a Native American studies program was created and over 800 Native students have graduated from the College.
“To say that Dartmouth is committed to the education of Native students and then invite them into a hostile environment where people are not welcoming and some individuals seem to be targeting them is a problem,” he said. “As long as that’s going on, that’s going to hold us back as an academic institution.”
Sixkiller McNulty said that the NAD community will persevere.
“We will not be frightened into a corner by a few students who have decided to use all of their Greenprint money on a sophomoric but deeply hurtful act,” she said. “Native Americans at Dartmouth is an extremely resilient community, and we will be resilient against this.”
Read Full Article Here
By: LAURA PLATA
On a crisp and clear autumn afternoon this past Sunday, members of the Yale and New Haven communities gathered on the New Haven Green to kick off a two-day celebration of Indigenous People’s Day. This year, organizers emphasized a broader definition of native identity that included indigenous Latin American and Hawaiian as well as Native American people.
Adorned in traditional native garments, participants proudly carried signs that reclaimed indigenous history in the face of colonial imperialism. In particular, the posters denounced the legacy of Christopher Columbus, who was honored by a national holiday Monday. “Raining on his parade,” “The Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria and Genocide” and “Indigenous solidarity” were just a few of the signs that bore testimony to native people’s fight for recognition during a holiday that, for some, has historically served as a reminder of the massacre of millions of Native Americans. During the event, as well as over the course of the two-day celebration, organizers focused on inclusivity within the native community despite the significant amount of diversity within the group.
“What a lot of people don’t understand about the native community at Yale is that it’s very diverse,” said Sebastian Medina-Tayac ’16, president of the Association of Native Americans at Yale and a staff reporter for the News. “We are as linguistic and culturally diverse as any other culture. It’s a lot of people coming together predicated on the idea of survival, which is radical in and of itself.”
The goal of Indigenous People’s Day was to celebrate the survival and resilience of indigenous people across the Western hemisphere. Events focused on weaving indigenous foods, dances and voices from different groups within Yale and New Haven into a more comprehensive picture of native culture.
Brown University Students Stage Die-In, Demand Greater Recognition For Native Americans: Activists want the school to observe an annual Indigenous Peoples’ Day
By: Tyler Kingkade
Students staged a “die-in” at the Brown University campus Friday as part of a campaign urging the school to do more to honor Native Americans.
The die-in was scheduled to last 52 minutes and 30 seconds “to signify the 523 years of indigenous resistance since Columbus,” according to an event description from the student group Native Americans at Brown.
Friday’s event was billed as a “pre-demonstration” for a Monday protest, where students urged the university to change the name of its Fall Weekend Holiday — a day off from classes that Brown holds on the Monday when many Americans observe Columbus Day — to “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” Seventy-five students had volunteered to be part of the die-in.
Late last week, 14 groups representing black students at the university released a statement calling on the Herald to do more to rectify the columns.
The groups said in the statement that they “rebuke” the newspaper and the author of the two columns, undergraduate M. Dzhali Maier, “for propagating and proliferating racist opinions and erasure, delegitimizing the emotions and trauma of oppressed people, and for issuing a subpar statement, that ‘The Herald regrets the publication of the column’, [sic] does not adequately acknowledge and apologize for the adverse effects this has had on the undergraduate community.”
Both the Herald editors’ apology and the statement from the student groups point out that Brown’s campus in Providence, Rhode Island, sits on land that used to belong to the Narragansett and Wampanoag nations.
Read Full Article Here
As the University took an official holiday on Monday for Columbus Day, Harvard affiliates and local residents gathered in Harvard Yard to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day to honor indigenous cultures of the Americas and Pacific Islands through traditional dance, song, and spoken word.
“This event is to honor how indigenous people live today according to their traditions or how they survived in whatever form they can,” said Caden T. Chase ’17, co-president of Native Americans at Harvard College. “This is honoring our ancestors and also to show that we still exist, and that we are still strong, and we stand together.”
The event featured performances from members across a variety of cultural clubs, including Native Americans at Harvard College, Fuerza Latina, RAZA, Mariachi Veritas de Harvard, and Holoimua O Hawaii.
SaNoah LaRocque ’19, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, performed a jingle dress dance, and said being on the East Coast held special significance because the area represented the epicenter of contact between colonial settlers and native people.
“To say that we still have these little bits of our culture, to say that we still dance these dances, that we can still speak these languages, and have this culture—it just means the absolute world to be able to dance on this ground, in front of these people at Harvard College, of all places,” LaRocque said.
Kenard G. Dillon ’18, who performed spoken word on his Navajo-Apache-Hopi heritage, said some performances may have been political, but the overarching goal of the event was to celebrate indigenous cultures.
“We believe Columbus does not represent Harvard’s values of ‘respect, dignity, and different’ among others and each other,” the letter to University President Drew G. Faust read. It cited cities like Portland, Ore., Seattle, Wash., and Albuquerque, N.M., that have recast the holiday.
“What motivated me to do this was in fact the idea that we can look at the historical record and understand that what [Columbus] did was in fact a violation of human rights,” said Nakaiye Flotte, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences student who wrote the petition.
—Staff writer R. Blake Paterson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BlakePat95.
With Indigenous Peoples’ Day upon us,
It a powerful moment to notice the many communities that have changed their holiday name to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Also, there are communities such as our school Native communities that are mobilizing to resist celebrating such a holiday named after an individual that has perpetuated so much violence towards many Native/Indigenous communities and many more communities of color. All this bringing attention to the visibility of the Native/Indigenous communities on each campus and the necessity for inclusion and support for these communities on campus.
To further raise visibility and create space for ourselves on our respective campuses to a wider audience, the Ivy Native Council encourages anyone who is interested in vocalizing their thoughts about the day/the significance for recognizing and celebrating the continued resistance of Native/Indigenous people to contribute narratives/poems/photos/videos/hashtags to the Ivy Native Council Blog.
It is important for INC to continue to provide a platform for every member of each of our respective schools as well as creating a larger community of support across each campus.. Likewise, it is also crucial as the Ivy Native community to amplify, strengthen, and support the voices of students whose Native/Indigenous populations may be small, but would like to express their thoughts around the day.
We will continue to post information and content about the amazing demonstrations our member schools will be hosting. In addition, keep an eye on snapchat at ivnative for live feeds of the demonstrations happening across the many campuses.
Here is a list of event happening today:
Fall Weekend Demonstration at Brown University
Indigenous Peoples’s Day at Columbia University
Harvard Indigenous People’s Day
Indigenous Peoples’ Day at Yale University
Brown University ‘17
By NATIVE AMERICANS AT BROWN
Native Americans at Brown’s demonstration Monday is a fight for visibility and a call for the University to oppose the acts of genocide against Native peoples. By changing the name from Fall Weekend to Indigenous People’s Day, we aim to turn this holiday into a celebration of the cultures and histories of Indigenous living and dead, on campus and beyond.
On Tuesday, Oct. 6, The Herald published the column “Columbian Exchange Day,” which asked Native students on campus to celebrate the so-called benefits of Columbus’ arrival while ignoring the contemporary realities that Indigenous peoples and black people at Brown, the United States and the rest of the Americas face as a result of Columbus’ arrival.
In the days after the publication of the column, Natives at Brown has received an outpouring of support from students and faculty members in the Brown community, and it has been a moving experience for which we are very thankful. But there are still antagonistic structural and social forces on campus that led to the release of this article that neglect the support of students of color on campus and that refused to rename Fall Weekend to Indigenous People’s Day during the first petition in 2009. So we release this statement to provide history, Native student experiences at Brown and a reason for why these opinions columns have the impact that they do. We want to stress upon the student body, administration and faculty the tangible impact that racist ideologies have on Native students at Brown and beyond.
A history lesson
Bartholome De Las Casas describes Spanish soldiers under Columbus’ control as motivated by “insatiable greed, killing, terrorizing, afflicting and torturing the native peoples” with “the strangest and most varied new methods of cruelty.” He recounts soldiers testing the sharpness of their blades by cutting off the legs of children who ran away from them. Columbus oversaw the selling of Native children as young as nine into sex slavery. After his arrival in the Americas, Columbus made his living through the slave trade. This legacy of sexual and physical violence towards Native peoples with genocidal intent so that Europeans would be able to bring over “Old World” comforts has been echoed throughout American history and continues to this day.
The Doctrine of Discovery written by Pope Alexander VI in 1493 established the idea that Native peoples were not human as they did not practice Christianity. It stated that those who inhabited this land did not have a legitimate claim to it, rendering it conquerable for European settlers and justifiable to kill Indigenous people. This document was later used by Chief Justice John Marshall in the early 1800s to state that Native American tribes were “domestic dependent” nations and thus could not hold their own land. These court cases, known as the Marshall Trilogy, set the precedent for land claims in the United States. It led to ruthless wars, the Indian Removal Act, the continued killing and raping of Indigenous women, the eradication of beliefs on two-spirit identities (and their roles in Native societies), destabilized food systems, language loss and atrocious religious discrimination. Its impact on Native peoples is still felt today in the form of continued policies and historical trauma.
Why ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day’
It’s true that the seemingly neutral title ‘Fall Weekend’ halts an active celebration of Columbus’ torture, genocide and the dawn of the transatlantic slave trade. But this is asking the bare minimum of the Brown community while quietly contributing to the erasure of Indigenous peoples. Renaming the holiday Indigenous People’s Day has the power to transform the day into a celebration of the cultures and histories of the original inhabitants of the Americas.
This is not just a symbolic or political stance that we are taking. Our continuing fight for Native visibility on campus has consequences for us as students, Native communities and the greater campus community of students of color. We are living testaments to Native resistance, and we are requesting a celebration of ourselves and millions of others like us, rather than a University erasure of the genocide that we had to fight back to get here. This renaming of Fall Weekend is just one small step in longer walk towards institutionalizing real support for Native students. This protest will not be the end of this discussion. Our voices will continue to sound upon this campus.
Native student experiences
In a school where there are few formal institutional mechanisms to support Native students on campus and where our numbers as admitted students are uncertain at best, Natives at Brown is often the de facto meeting place for the few Native faculty members, undergraduates, graduate students and staff members to provide each other with an informal substitute for the support we lack. When our efforts and presence are diminished by explicit opinions that target the efforts of Natives at Brown or by bystanders who are complicit in this targeting, and by University indifference to our repeated attempts at making our needs known, the legacy of erasure and invisibility continues, and we become further isolated on this campus. We are a small population on campus, but we’re here to stay, and we’re demanding that today the University hear our voices.
The impact of ideology
What is in an opinions column today can permeate into policy tomorrow. The columns The Herald published in the name of the “free exchange of ideas” ignore the repeated ways in which racist ideologies have resulted in real-life violence. Giving poorly researched, obviously racist “opinions” a platform does not simply cause “hurt feelings,” but rather contributes to the ongoing realities of racism for Native people today. It is time to stop entertaining ideas that have proven to enact only violence on communities of color. It is time to stop celebrating the arrival of a rapist, slave trader and mass murderer.
Right now, the University has a clear decision in front of it and an opportunity to make positive change in the student body and the Brown community. It has the ability to contribute to a larger movement that seeks to reconcile past acts of violence against people of color and stop the acts of violence that continue on our communities today. At a school that seeks to “serve the community, the nation and the world by discovering, communicating and preserving knowledge and understanding,” we are simply requesting that Brown celebrate the Indigenous community of its campus by preserving the knowledge, history and understanding of our perseverance. This is a demand for the celebration and recognition of collective resilience instead of brutal genocide. You tried to get rid of us before, but today, when you see us on the Main Green, we are there to tell you that you’ve failed. We’re still here, and we always will be. We’re not changing for you anymore. Indigenous People’s Day is a call for change: From now on, you will need to change for us.
Native Americans at Brown extends its gratitude to the Black Student Union, Collective of Asian American and Pacific Islander students, Latino students at Brown, the Undergraduate Council of Students and others who have stood against racism on campus.
Read Full Article Here
Jack Martin, a junior at Brown University, didn’t know the first thing about an Ivy League education and recalls turning in his application at the last minute. He had no alumni to turn to and wished he did so he could hear their experience and learn from them.
It’s something that he doesn’t want other Native students to go through alone.
As president of the Ivy Native Council, Martin and fellow council members put together a panel discussion and college fair at the Navajo Education Center in Window Rock on Wednesday, Aug. 26.
The panel consisted of undergraduate and graduate students from Ivy League schools.
To read the full article, subscribe by going to www.navajotimes.com or pick up your copy of the Navajo Times at your nearest newsstand!
“The displacement of indigenous peoples…from their traditional land holdings and the loss of key cultural sites to development represent far more than a physical dislocation; they portend a profound rupture in the historical continuity of their consciousness of themselves as a people with a distinct identity.” –Suzanne Romaine
The significance of land to indigenous cultures cannot be overstated. Kalae’ōla’a Trask-Sharpe (Native Hawaiian) is a freshman at Dartmouth who demonstrated his dedication to this issue at the 14th session for the rights of indigenous peoples at the UN. Kalae talks about Hawaiʻi’s Thirty Meter Telescope controversy in the following video.