Columbia exists on stolen land. Well, actually, all of Manhattan exists on stolen land. It’s no surprise that before the Dutch arrived in the 17th century and Christopher Columbus 100 years before that, the land that we now occupy belonged to Indigenous peoples. And on the second Monday of October, the day that has traditionally been celebrated throughout American history as Columbus Day, we stand behind Columbia’s Native American Council in calling for the University to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Last year, the Native American Council released its first petition calling on Columbia to recognize this holiday. Frankly, we’re not surprised that University administration has failed time and again to acknowledge the stolen land upon which this university was built and honor this holiday. Columbia must acknowledge its history of settler-colonialism.
Over the past year, we’ve witnessed incidents of white supremacy, hatred, and racism take place on this campus. This school, its administration, and its board of trustees have not done enough to combat and prevent these incidents from taking place in the future.
Currently, the only memorial that acknowledges the existence and displacement of the Lenape people from Columbia’s land exists on a plaque outside of John Jay Hall. This plaque only came to fruition after three years of hard work from the NAC.
After unsuccessful attempts to gain University recognition of the holiday, this year proved no different. Yet again, Columbia has refused to recognize the “achievements, resilience, and historical injustices survived by Indigenous peoples,” as stated in the NAC’s call to honor this day.
Now that Harvard, Brown, Cornell, and most recently, Princeton, have all given credence to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, half of the eight Ivy League schools have acknowledged the importance and symbolism of the holiday—yet we have not. For an administration that so often wants to co-opt the title of the “Activist Ivy,” it has done little to prove itself worthy of the name.
Acknowledging Indigenous Peoples’ Day is the least the University can do to start to recognize the settler-colonialist history of this institution—which requires practically no effort on the University’s part. We call upon Columbia and its administration to formally recognize the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day from this year forward.
The authors are members of Spectator’s 143rd Editorial Board. News editor Karen Xia and managing editor of The Eye Julian Shen-Berro recused themselves from this editorial due to their coverage of the issue.
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