Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrated instead of Columbus
Ellie Sherry — Reporter
For several decades, a day in October has seen celebrated because of Christopher Columbus crossing the ocean. However, in more recent years, there has been significant protest about changing the name of the day to Indigenous Peoples Day.
On Monday Oct. 14, a recognized holiday, Christopher Columbus Day, Southern held an event that talked about indigenous people. The event hosted several different panel members who all talked about their experience as an indigenous person.
Yi-Chun Lin, the director and associate professor of women’s and gender studies, was one of the coordinators of the event.
The event was named “From Palestine to Turtle Island”, she said, because the indigenous people in the Americas have always referred to North America as “Turtle Island” because the shape of the island looks like something that would be on the back of a turtle shell. Therefore, “From Palestine to North America” encases the majority of the world.
The event brought up the question of the importance of having the name of Colombus Day changed.
“This is close to being a 30-year-old movement.” said Lin. “It’s a coalition of multiracial movement in recognizing the celebration of Columbus is wrong on so many grounds. Some people argue that today is for Italian-Americans, but I have many colleagues – who are Italian – definitely want to stay away from a celebration of a man who is associated with so much suffering and killing and brutality.”
Some of Southern’s students agree with the fact that the name should be changed from Christopher Columbus day to Indigenous Peoples Day. Undeclared major Ryan Soules, a freshman, is one of these people.
“I think it should be changed to Indigenous Peoples Day, because when [Christopher Colombus] came here, those were the first people that he met,” Soules said. “They were here before him, so they should have the credit.”
He is not alone in his thought process. Many other students like nursing major Asya Harding, a junior, also thought that the name of the day should be changed.
“I think it should be changed to Indigenous Peoples Day, because it’s rewarding someone who stole land and killed a bunch of people, and I don’t think that should be celebrated,” Harding said. “I learned in school that ‘he sailed the ocean blue in 1492,’ and that was it. There was never any discussion of all the harm he brought with him.”
As a social justice university, Southern’s core values include dignity, respect, civility, kindness, and compassion. With these values in mind, the university strives to take into account all cultures, including those who are marginalized.
“A question that we need to ask at every moment is, ‘What can we do to make people who have been on the outside of the margins to be included?’” Lin said.
“We are doing very little from what I can tell. Women and gender studies is only one part, we do our best to get the word out, but it’s not out soon enough or far enough. It is not dismissing people of Italian heritage; there are better people to represent Italian culture than Christopher Columbus.”