The Green Party of Michigan (GPMI) supports the students, faculty, and administration of Northern Michigan University in their call for NMU to recognize Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day and condemns the NMU Board of Trustees’ decision to reject the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Columbus Day represents many things to different people. However, history cannot be denied. As his own journals attest, Columbus willingly engaged in the murder and enslavement of the Indigenous peoples he met on his travels. As a symbol, Columbus Day represents the nearly complete dispossession of Native Americans from their homelands,and the genocide and ecocide that have been and continue to be a part of that colonization.
The Board’s denial comes as a particular slap in the face as NMU recently became the first university in the state of Michigan to offer a bachelor’s degree in Native American Studies. “I was impressed that NMU was the first university in Michigan to have a degree program in Native American Studies. So many of our place names are of native origin,” says Sherry A. Wells, Chair of the Green Party of Michigan. Wells adds, “Anyone who reads An Indigenous People’s History of the United States will fully appreciate the many civilizations that existed here at Columbus’ time and deeply sorrow over the deaths of the 75 million that the ‘Discovery’ of this half of the world caused.”
In addition, “untold numbers of animal lives and entire species were lost as a direct result of Columbus’s ‘discovery,’ ” Brooke Wheeler, a GPMI member of the GP-US Animal Rights Committee, points out. “The destruction of the once abundantly beautiful American lands by industrial corporations is a direct legacy of the Columbian excursions.”
In their decision to persist in recognizing Columbus Day, the NMU Board of Trustees insists on celebrating genocide and the near-wasting of two whole continents, a holocaust that continues to this day.
There is an alternative.
“In choosing to replace the celebration of Columbus Day with the celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, communities throughout the United States are celebrating resiliency and the strength of peoples who refuse to give up even in the face of tremendous horror,” says Aimée Cree Dunn, a member of the GPMI State Central Committee and NMU Native American Studies instructor.
“Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day also means recognizing the validity and importance of cultures that have millennia-old roots in this land,” she says. Cree Dunn adds, “These ancient roots have provided Indigenous cultures with ecological knowledge and teachings that are absolutely essential to the survival of our planet today.”
The Green Party of Michigan joins the NMU students, faculty and administration as well as other communities around the nation in celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Monday, October 9, 2017.
GREEN PARTY OF MICHIGAN
grassroots democracy • social justice
ecological wisdom • non-violence