Yesterday, Oct. 10, marked a calendar holiday: Indigenous Peoples day. However, some may be more familiar with the traditional celebration of Christopher Columbus that was taught in Elementary school. Although the name of that day may bring nostalgia, Indigenous Peoples day is what we believe deserves true celebration.
Christopher Columbus day was dedicated to the anniversary of Columbus “discovering” America. With a modern sociological lens, we can see that the land was very clearly discovered and occupied before his arrival. American Indians had a widespread range in North America and a developed way of life on the land. Columbus, however, let him and his fellow explorers enslave Indigenous Peoples for labor, sex or sale.
Furthermore, according to Britannica Encyclopedia, “The arrival of Columbus in the Americas inaugurated the era of European settlement and economic exploitation of the Americas, in which native peoples were slaughtered, expelled from their territories, and decimated by foreign diseases.” Clearly, the man who began a butterfly effect of Indigenous abuse and slaughter is not one we wish to celebrate.
In an effort to re-write our views on the day, we are dedicating our celebrations instead to Indigenous Peoples. In order to create a society where everyone’s background is accepted and respected, we must encourage education and appreciation for cultures – especially the cultures of those whose land we live on.
Redirecting our attention to Indigenous People on this day can be a chance for Indigenous People to share their culture and traditions, build our knowledge of Indigenous groups in our area and give us time to reflect on the struggles that their community has faced. Exposure builds tolerance, which leads to acceptance. Therefore, it is crucial to encourage the exposure to Indigenous cultures.
Mankato, specifically, should take the day to recognize it’s terror upon Native Americans. The lost lives of those in the Dakota hanging is a part of Mankato’s history that should be remembered with a heavy heart, and not glossed over. We should now strive to respect the remaining Indigenous Peoples, ensuring that they never face something this horrific again.
On campus, if students are hoping to learn more about Indigenous Peoples, they can reach out to American Indian Affairs to continue Indigenous learning.