Editorial: Strong voices will never be silenced

Photo+by+Emmalene+Oysti

Photo by Emmalene Oysti

North Wind Staff

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue…

Most of America’s youth can recall this rhyme and the time spent every Columbus Day learning of the man who colonized our nation and began our heritage. But what our grade school teachers failed to mention each year is the people and cultures that were displaced due to Columbus’ discovery and stay in America.

Columbus wasn’t the first to discover America and the native people who inhabited it; he was simply the one who stayed. His time spent in America marked the beginning of the depletion, enslavement and genocide of Native People.

Presently, Columbus Day is recognized as a federal holiday and no longer recognized within states and schools. ASNMU, our student body government, has been pushing for our university to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Over the course of the past two years, ASNMU has gained over 500 signatures and the support of the Academic Senate in celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day in place of Columbus Day. The NMU Board of Trustees was asked to vote on the matter at a meeting on Friday, Sept. 22.

But the board refused.

As administration continually speaks of the value they place upon transparency and representing student voices, it is disheartening to hear that this is one matter that may go unchanged. Brown University, Cornell University, the University of Utah and Minnesota State University all now recognize the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

NMU is the first university in the state of Michigan with a Native American studies program and resides among a large Anishinaabe community. It seems (obvious imperative fitting) that we should become the first university in Michigan to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day in an effort to preserve and support Native culture.

For centuries, Native American oppression has been casually swept under the rug, leaving their culture silenced. Whether due to differing beliefs or fear of public response, the NMU administration is now silencing the voice of the students who are actively seeking diversity and the betterment of our university as a whole.

Moving forward, it is crucial our university is not only respectful of the culture and people of the land we are occupying, but also attentive and representative of the students that occupy this university.