The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

102° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Letter to the editor: Why UA should celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day, not Columbus Day

    Alex McIntyre
    Adrian Sabori (right) sings while performing with the Starpoint Drum Group at a #NoDAPL solidarity rally on the UA Mall on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. The demonstration supports the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which is protesting the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline that would pass under the Missouri river just outside the tribal boundary.

    At the UA, the second Monday of October is a day just like any other, full of classes, meetings and the typical hustle and bustle of student life.

    However, For Native Americans, it’s a special holiday that acknowledges the strength, resilience and fortitude of this hemisphere’s first people. That holiday is called Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and it was created as a counter-narrative to Columbus Day. For Native American Wildcats, the day is full of events and activities to attend, and serves as a wonderful reminder that despite racism, genocide, imperialism and slavery that characterizes Columbus’ legacy in the Western hemisphere, indigenous people have persisted and have come through the other side stronger than ever.

    RELATED: UA has failed its Tohono O’odham students

    The holiday was first proposed in 1977 from the International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas, and the city of Berkeley, California was the first city in the U.S. to celebrate the holiday in 1992. Since then, there has been a national movement to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, with cities like Seattle, Minneapolis, Portland and most recently Denver celebrating the holiday.

    On a local level, there have been Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrations in Tucson for a couple years now, and there is a movement by the non-profit group Indigenous Alliance without Borders to get every city in Arizona to celebrate the holiday, with the ultimate goal of having the entire state officially recognize it.

    On a school level, our peer institution Arizona State University passed an initiative in 2012 that removed Columbus Day from the academic calendar and put Indigenous Peoples’ Day in its place. Hopefully, this can encourage our very own school to do something similar, as it would be great to have institutional support from the UA for this very important holiday.

    RELATED: UA study disproves old stereotype of increased alcohol use in Native American populations

    As a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation and a UA alumna, I am proud of everything the Native UA community has done to make this holiday more widely recognized.

    On this day, I urge you to take some time to get to know your fellow Native American Wildcats. Talk to them, listen to them, learn about the various resources on campus that promote Native American culture, and go to the UA mall to participate in the events. Then maybe someday, it won’t just be Native American wildcats but all wildcats that celebrate this special day.

    Gabriela Maya Bernadett is a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation and graduated from the UA in 2015. She is a community member of the Tohono O’odham Student Association at the UA.

    Follow Gabriela Maya Bernadett on Twitter.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search