Keene State College doesn’t cancel classes on Indigenous Peoples Day.
Indigenous Peoples Day was created to celebrate the deep, beautiful culture of Indigenous people and recognizing that we are on their land that we forced them off of.
Currently, KSC doesn’t cancel classes on Indigenous Peoples Day, which from our point of view seems a little backwards. The Equinox sees this national holiday as one that should be celebrated and recognized with the same day- off as other major national holidays, including
Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Veterans Day and Labor Day.
On Friday, Oct. 14, KSC is giving students the day off with a “Fall Break Day.” This is the end of the same week as Indigenous Peoples Day. Not recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day with a day off but then scheduling a day off for no significant reason feels extremely dismissive of the holiday.
Keene State College also prides itself on being the only college or university in the country to offer an undergraduate degree in Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Taking this into account, it feels contradictory to hold classes on Indigenous Peoples Day at a college where the genocide of Indigenous people during this country’s founding should be recognized with sympathy and a day off, like we recognize other national holidays.
The college also posted to social media highlighting the fact that the campus we live, work, and learn on is the traditional homeland of the Abenaki, Pennacook, and Wabanaki peoples. KSC is able to recognize that we have a history with Indigenous peoples, but still doesn’t give it the same weight as other federal holidays.
The Equinox sees canceling classes on Indigenous Peoples Day as a way for the college to fully embrace the accountability it’s taking on with its public recognition of the college’s property.
There is a trend with our nation’s growth, that we disregard Indigenous people and purposefully ignore their culture and presence in modern contexts. We hoped that our college would aim to be at the front of the line to fully celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day, especially since other institutions in the University System of New Hampshire don’t directly recognize the holiday with a day off. The University of New Hampshire was the only institution within the university system that had a day off on Oct. 10, which was called a “mid-semester break day.”
At the end of the day, with all the recognition the college gives to the history of our campus’s land and to our genocide courses and major, to not cancel classes in honor of Indigenous Peoples Day is deeply backhanded and disrespectful.