Exchange Columbus: The case for Indigenous People’s Day
By Native Americans at Brown
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.
Activists want the school to observe an annual Indigenous Peoples' Day.
By Tyler Kingkade
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.
The activism at Brown dovetails with a larger, national conversation about renaming Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day--the reasoning being that Columbus didn't actually discover America, and that in fact his arrival ushered in an era of slavery and genocide for Native Americans.
At Brown, however, the protest follows a controversy on campus over two op-eds published last week by The Brown Daily Herald, the student newspaper, that were denounced as racist by many students.