These colleges are celebrating Indigenous Peoples' Day over Columbus Day

Indigenous Peoples' Day 'honor[s] the cultures and histories of the Native American people,' 'reflecting on their tribal roots and the tragic stories that hurt but strengthened their communities.'

Columbus Day is this Monday, but several colleges are choosing to observe “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” instead. 

Annually celebrated on the second Monday of October, Columbus Day allows the country to reflect on America’s founding and the westward expansion to the ‘New World.’

Indigenous Peoples’ Day, however, recasts the holiday to “honor the cultures and histories of the Native American people,” “reflecting on their tribal roots and the tragic stories that hurt but strengthened their communities.”

President Joe Biden declared  “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” a national holiday last year, stating:

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 11, 2021, as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.  I call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”

These are the schools that will opt out of celebrating Columbus Day this year:

Colorado State University

Colorado State University, located in Fort Collins, invited Native American Rights Fund attorney Beth Wright to keynote its Indigenous Peoples Day event. It is hosted by the Native American Cultural Center and RamEvents.

Wright will discuss the Indian Child Welfare Act, which passed in 1978 “to protect the best interest of Indian Children.” The Act also established Federal standards for the “placement of [Indian] children in homes which will reflect the unique values of Indian culture.”

The Supreme Court of the United States will hear arguments to determine the constitutionality of the law this term.

Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire, is celebrating Indigenous Peoples Month this October, and will highlight different events celebrating native communities.

Different activities include chalking messages on campus, a midnight breakfast, an Indigenous fashion show, and discussions regarding Native American student experiences.

The college will show Imagining the Indian: The Fight Against Native American Mascoting on Oct. 10.

“We’re challenging people to think about their assumptions about Christopher Columbus and about this nation in general—challenging them to question their American identity in a way that recognizes who we are as Indigenous people and who we’ve become, despite all the challenges that we’ve faced,” student Ahnili Johnson-Jennings said in a Dartmouth article.

Mid-Plains Community College

Mid-Plains Community College (MPCC) in Nebraska planned events at its North Platte and McCook campuses to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day.

Cowessess First Nation tribal member Stuart Sparvier will speak at both campuses about “Racism in Colonial Canada: An Indigenous Perspective.” 

The speeches are sponsored by MPCC’s Student Life Department and Social Justice Group. Sparvier is expected to discuss the impact of colonialism on the First Nation tribe and the lingering impact.

Mid Michigan College

Mid Michigan College partnered with the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe to host an Oct. 10 event at its Mt. Pleasant campus.

The event will feature a variety of speakers, Elder’s Prayers and Blessings, drum circles, and the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways traveling exhibit. Federal, state, and local representatives are expected to be in attendance.

“We are excited to bring these experts, leaders, public servants, and cultural experiences together in an effort to respectfully observe this very meaningful day,” Donna Sinclair, Mid Michigan College instructor and Honoring Indigenous Peoples Day event coordinator, told Morning Sun. “And we’re grateful to the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe for partnering with us to make this event a reality.”

University of St. Thomas

The University of St. Thomas, located in St. Paul, Minnesota, recognized Oct. 10 as Indigenous Peoples Day in an article published by The Newsroom

The university commemorated the day by hosting a discussion between Vice President for Mission Father Chris Collins and Red Cloud Indian School’s Maka Black Elk on “Truth & Healing.”

The pair discussed how historical injustices against Indigenous People were embedded in American policy and the Church.

Lake Forest College

Lake Forest College in Illinois will host three events on Monday in honor of indigenous people between noon and 8 p.m.

The college will begin the festivities with a land acknowledgment, followed by a panel titled “Indegeneity Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.” The day concludes with a reception that includes a DJ and refreshments.

Campus Reform contacted every university for comment and will update accordingly.

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