Native American Cultural Programs (NACP) are currently petitioning to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day at the University of Connecticut.
Though universities across the country such as the University of Michigan and Brown University observe Indigenous People’s day rather than Columbus Day, UConn does not.
Instead, UConn acknowledged the struggles of indigenous communities by making this week Indigenous People’s week.
“As a land grant university and Connecticut’s flagship public institution, we recognize that we share this land and our history with those who have come before us and continue to reside, work and live in our state,” said the Office of the Provost in an email to students.
The treasurer of NACP and seventh semester human rights and philosophy major, Brooke Parmalee, said that the petition is important because continuing to keep a holiday named after Columbus leaves a big picture out of history.
“We want to acknowledge the catastrophe that Columbus and colonization in general has brought to indigenous communities,” Parmalee said.
When Columbus landed in what is the modern-day Caribbean in 1492, he and his men killed and enslaved the indigenous Taíno people there.
To many, the brutal history associated with what Columbus and his men did to indigenous people is not something they want celebrated.
The fight to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day has been ongoing across the country for decades, with Berkeley, California, being the first to change the name of the holiday in 1992.
This year, 70 more states and cities renamed the holiday including Los Angeles, Seattle and Denver. Columbus, Ohio, also decided to not celebrate their namesake’s holiday this year and renamed it Indigenous Peoples Day.
“Columbus Day is a relic of an outdated and oversimplified version of history,” said the mayor of Columbus in a statement last week.
So far, NACP has garnered more than 200 signatures, and the petition will be available to sign on the bottom floor of the Student Union until the end of the week.
“It’s important to acknowledge indigenous people today because without acknowledging them, it’s like they are forgotten,” Parmalee said.
Gladi Suero is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.