Not just a Holiday

Puja Thapa/ Administrative Executive Editor

This year, Keene decided to join thousands of states, cities and universities in changing the holiday formerly known as Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day.

This action was spearheaded by two students Jeniffer Afualo-Robinson and Jedidiah Crook and it certainly was not a small feat. On Monday, October 14, a council made up of professors from both Keene State College and Franklin Pierce University met with the students. Ultimately, Keene mayor Kendall Lane was the one who read the proclamation of the City of Keene that recognized Indigenous People’s Day.

While this is certainly a step in the right direction, this proclamation only recognized the change for this year. Next year will be its own challenge and there are many more steps that need to be taken to fully acknowledge indigenous people.

The first step to fully acknowledging these people is recognizing that these atrocities did not just end over a hundred years ago, but continue to this day in the form of systemic racism. An example of this is the forced removal of indigenous children from parents that most of the time, did nothing wrong. These children would either be taken to foster homes where they were abused a lot of the time or boarding schools where their culture was taken away and they were forced to assimilate to white culture. While this is not as prominent now as it was during the last century, indigenous children are still much more likely to end up in foster care than other children

Another thing that people should know is that many indigenous people still fight for the land that was rightfully theirs in the first place. They have filed lawsuits and tried to fight this legally but unfortunately, they keep getting shut down by our court systems.

While we are all very happy with Keene State’s decision to recognize Indigenous People’s Day rather than Columbus, the injustices indigenous people faced should not be remembered for just one day. The Equinox believes the next step is for schools to start educating students about the history of indigenous people. Rather than teaching us about how Columbus discovered America, students should be taught about the indigenous people that were living there prior to Columbus. While we are not saying to completely stop teaching about Columbus in school’s, we think that the curriculum should also highlight indigenous people and the genocide Columbus forced upon them.

There is an argument that children are too young to learn about all the horrible things Columbus did to the indigenous people. However, in elementary and middle school children learn about the holocaust and the 9/11 attacks. This is American history and it’s important to have all the facts.    

We also hope that if Indigenous People’s Day is to replace Columbus day fully, that it be treated with the same respect that Columbus day is. If students are given the day off for Columbus Day to reflect on our history, then we should do the same for Indigenous People’s Day. This would give many people the opportunity to not only reflect on the positives of our country, but also its imperfections.

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