School administrators at Harvard University have quietly designated the 2nd Monday in October as “Indigenous People’s Day.”
According to the Harvard Crimson, the move is likely a reflection of the decision by the City Council of Cambridge to rename Columbus Day as “Indigenous People’s Day,” after members of the council said they wanted to reclaim the day for Native Americans who perished after Columbus came to the Americas.
According to Nadeem Mazen, a member of the Cambridge City Council who proposed the bill to rename the holiday, Columbus should not be celebrated because he was a tyrant who tortured and destroyed the culture of the indigenous people of the Americas.
“At a basic level, we’re saying ‘no’ to a day named after someone who was a tyrant, and was a torturer, and was a destroyer of Indigenous people, to turn this around and to honor those people without saying anything bad about other people,” said Mazen.
Ashley Hamilton, the Vice President of Native Americans at Harvard College, said her organization would have preferred the college draw more attention to the name change because the holiday is not widely known on campus.
“It’s a celebration of our survival in that we’re still here, thriving, even though it’s not really known,” said Hamilton.
While students have repeatedly petitioned for the college to officially change the name of the holiday, this is the first year that Harvard has given official acknowledgement of the term “Indigenous People’s Day” on the school calendar.
In an email to students, a spokesperson for the University said that “Indigenous People’s Day” was added to the calendar to ensure that the school was in compliance with federal and Cambridge guidelines, but would not provide further comment.
According to the Crimson, the Native Americans at Harvard College are holding a number of events on Columbus day to protest the celebration of Columbus and to celebrate indigenous cultures.