Native American faculty, students encourage students to learn more about Indigenous Peoples Day


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The second Monday of October is recognized as Indigenous Peoples Day in Mount Pleasant, however, in other cities throughout the U.S., it is still celebrated as Columbus Day.

President Donald Trump released an annual presidential proclamation for Columbus Day on Oct.9. He stated that Christopher Columbus was a courageous man of faith and helped jump-start the explorations that led to the founding of the United States. 

Faculty and students in the Office of Native American Programs hope people use this day to learn more about U.S. history and America's indigenous nations. 

On Monday, three films will be shown in the Bovee University Center Rotunda with the intention of sparking discussion about Indigenous Peoples Day. Light refreshments will be provided.

The films are “Our Spirits Don’t Speak English: Indian Boarding School” from 3:30-5 p.m., “The Canary Effect: Kill the Indian, Save the Man” from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and “Awake, A Dream from Standing Rock” from 7-8:30 p.m. 

The event is sponsored by the Office of Native American Programs and North American Indigenous Student Organization. 

Colleen Green, director of Native American Programs, believes Columbus is celebrated on this day because many were taught false information in school and do not know who Columbus truly was. 

“There are a lot of inaccuracies in our history,” Green said.

Columbus did not actually discover America as many believe, Green said, but rather stumbled upon the Caribbean Islands. He and his men murdered and destroyed the communities of the natives in search of gold and treasure. 

She believes it’s offensive that the U.S. celebrates a man who cost so many Native Americans their lives. 

Hunter Sagaskie, a Native American Programs peer adviser, also thinks the national holiday is inappropriate. 

“To celebrate somebody like that just seems disrespectful to the people that he tried to take advantage of,” the Memphis senior said. 

He believes changing the name to Indigenous Peoples Day takes the focus from Columbus, and instead celebrates Native American culture and the struggles they have endured. 

Sagaskie is proud Mount Pleasant recognizes this day as Indigenous Peoples Day. He said it's exciting and he hopes it will be recognized in other places. 

He believes the day is a time for reflection -- not a holiday that should be ignored or brushed off. Recognizing the problems with calling it Columbus Day is an important and large step, Sagaskie said. 

He wants his fellow students to know more about this day and see the importance in researching it. He wishes for respect to be given to him and all other Indigenous peoples every day, but especially on this day.

Green believes people need to recognize  history, and learn more about the Indigenous people who were the first to live in what we now call America. 

Green said she wants students to realize Native Americans have a long history on this land and they are still here. 

The misconceptions about this day and who Columbus was are strong and widespread, Green said, but something as small as learning more about Native American history and recognizing the tragedy they faced can do so much to help.



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