October 12, 2015

Native students protest Brown columns

Native students at Brown react to The White Privilege of Cows and Columbian Exchange Day, the two columns that appeared in the student newspaper.

Exchange Columbus: The case for Indigenous People’s Day

By Native Americans at BrownNative 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.
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.

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.
Comment:  For more on Columbus, see Rise of Indigenous Peoples' Day and Renaming Columbus Day Angers Italian Americans.

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