October 12: Trade Columbus Day for Indigenous Peoples’ Day
MILWAUKEE — OneMilwaukee is proud to share our experience covering Indigenous Peoples’ Day — a celebration of the diversity, depth and beauty of the Americas’ Native Peoples, at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Monday, Oct. 12, 2015.
A collaboration of UWM students, including individuals, as well as organizations, such as Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES) and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), worked together to create “a gathering to celebrate Indigenous people’s culture and history in a constructive, positive, informational event … simultaneously, bringing public awareness to the role Christopher Columbus played in history,” according to the event’s Facebook page.
Through a series of song, drum and dance performances, activities and guest speakers, people who got involved were exposed to different Native American cultures and able to appreciate the many intricacies among the different tribes and nations.
What Columbus Day does NOT do: celebrates the United States, provides inclusion of our nation’s first inhabitants, respects the sovereignty that was innate in the Native Peoples’ human rights nor attempts to rectify the wrongs done by Columbus and those who took after his example.
What comes with its continued acceptance? It would perpetuate imperialist, colonial ideals, and we would allow white supremacy to pervade the mindset of yet another generation in the United States, the Americas, and, ultimately, across the world.
Contrarily, adopting Indigenous Peoples’ Day would help to include many people who, understandably, feel alienated by our nation’s collective celebration of Christopher Columbus beginning an onslaught against the Native Americans he encountered.
Much of the “controversy” over abolishing Columbus Day stems from the fact that traditional history books do not mention the atrocities he and his followers committed against the Indigenous People. Many Americans remember Christopher Columbus as the man who “discovered” the Americas — but not for much more than that — and we have been forced to celebrate his name throughout our history.
Let us follow the example set by cities, such as Albuquerque, New Mexico; Portland, Oregon; Bexar County, Texas; Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Let us abolish Columbus Day in exchange for Indigenous Peoples’ Day — and celebrate DIVERSITY.
How American would that be?