Columbus Day, which is celebrated on the second Monday of October, always sparks fierce debates about whether we as Americans should be honoring Christopher Columbus, the Italian explorer who “discovered” America. Many cities and states across the United States this year have decided to rename the holiday in a refusal to celebrate the genocide, oppression and colonization of the Native Americans.
Brown University has decided to join the ranks of those who have made the change. On Tuesday, the faculty that the prestigious university voted to rename Columbus Day to “Indigenous People’s Day.”
The holiday has been referred to as “Fall Weekend” since 2009, when Native Americans at Brown (NAB), a student group, called upon the university to make the name change. This past October, the NAB called for the official “Indigenous People’s Day” name change. The group argued that renaming the holiday “would recognize the contributions of Indigenous People/Native Americans to our community and our culture and foster a more inclusive community,” according to the Brown University website.
According to Boston, the name “Fall Weekend” satisfied students for a few years until a petition was launched by the NAB. The petition itself received over 1,000 signatures. The petition noted that “the current name of the holiday, ‘Fall Weekend,’ halts the active celebration of Columbus’ torture and genocide and the dawn of the transatlantic slave trade, [but] this is the bare minimum that Brown University can do.”
While voting on the name change, Brown University faculty met to discuss the goals of the NAB in regards to the change. This included increasing the visibility of Native American students on campus as well as recognizing and celebrating the accomplishments of Native Americans.
Thomas Roberts, a professor of biology and evolutionary biology at Brown University, said that “[the] faculty expressed their support for the name change as an opportunity to show support for Native Americans on our campus and beyond, and to celebrate Native American culture and history.”
The changes will become effective next fall. Brown University will be joining nine other cities who are celebrating the holiday for the first time this year, according to WPRI. It’s about time, too. It’s time we recognize exactly what happened upon the arrival of Christopher Columbus to American shores. It’s time we forget alleged sharing of corn and turkey amongst Native Americans and pilgrims and remember what actually happened: murder.