NASA brings petition to ASNMU

Hallie Sutton

The Native American Student Association (NASA) is asking the student government to support a petition recognizing Indigenous People’s Day on campus.

NASA, with the support of the NMU branch of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) and the Native American Language and Culture Club, is taking a petition that was signed throughout the month of November to ASNMU on Wednesday to celebrate indigenous People’s Day on the the day that is federally recognized as Columbus Day.

If ASNMU supports the petition, then NASA will take it to university officials for consideration. Although NMU does not officially recognize Columbus Day, if approved, the decision will open the door for more education about both Columbus and Indigenous people on campus, Andreaka Jump, a sophomore art and design major and vice president of NASA said.

There are 546 signatures on the petitions, all of which were collected on campus. When NASA petitioned, the majority of students they spoke to were in favor of the petition, though many students at first didn’t know the history of Columbus .

“And then once we explained it to them, they signed the petition. They thought it made sense,” Jump said.

Fliers that NASA handed out while petitioning included little known facts about Columbus, including his encouragement of labor and sexual enslavement of the native people of the Bahamas, where he landed. It also included information of Columbus’ punishments for those who revolted. The legacy he left extended far beyond the Bahamas and can still be felt today in Indigenous communities.

“I learned about him in elementary school and he sounded awesome, but they don’t tell you he was a genocidal maniac, basically. They just tell you he discovered America,” said Biidaaban Reinhardt, president of AISES and a junior physics major who hopes to double major with Native American Studies come fall. “He discovered America? We lived there already – he just landed there.”

NMU would not be alone in recognizing Indigenous People’s Day if the petition passes. Seattle, Minneapolis and Traverse City are some of the many cities that have officially replaced Columbus Day. Universities such as Minnesota State and Brown have also officially changed the title of the day to Indigenous People’s Day.

“It really does bring recognition to the community,” Reinhardt said. “ I identify as an Anishinaabe women. I’ve already been aware of Indigenous people’s presence, but a lot of the population doesn’t realize Native Americans are still here. I’ve heard people in some of my Native American Studies classes – they didn’t realize Native Americans we’re still around, they thought we were extinct.”

Sophie Albright, a senior zoology and Spanish double major, was one of many students who signed the petition when NASA held a day-long event in the Academic Mall to collect signatures.

“It definitely me happy to see that, since a majority of our student body is non-Native people, it was nice to see so many of them getting so passionate about the issue,” Albright said. “I just liked to see that people cared.”

The petition will got to the ASNMU meeting at 7 p.m. on Wed, Feb. 17 in the Cadillac Room in the University Center.

“I think as long as we keep pushing for this change, by starting locally, by starting at the college level with a petition,” Reinhardt said. “If enough people back this idea, it will eventually get changed throughout the whole United States.”