Canku Ota Logo
Canku Ota
Canku Ota Logo
(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
pictograph divider
Panel of American Indian Professors Examines Nationwide Meaning of Columbus Day
by Jessie Shoffel - The Daily Orange - the independent campus newspaper of Syracuse University

For high school students, it's a day to sleep in. For some Americans, it means a parade. But for American Indians, many of which surround the Syracuse University Hill, Columbus Day is a time to mourn their losses.

Outside Grant Auditorium Monday night, about 60 observers attending a lecture put on by the Native American Students Association and U. Encounter were greeted by festive American Indian decorations. However, pumpkins and dried corn cobs, draped fabrics in shades of yellow and maroon and American Indian jewelry and sculpture vendors prefaced a much darker lecture topic.

The symposium, titled "What Columbus Day Really Means to Indigenous People," featured three American Indian scholars, SU writing professor Scott Lyons, Buffalo State College professor Lori Quigley and Colgate University professor Michael Taylor, who spoke of the hardships that have come upon their cultures since the onset of colonialism.

"Columbus is a symbol," said Lyons, a member of the Ojibwe tribe. "He is a symbol of the possession of our land and our rights. But most of all, he symbolizes the fact that the destruction of our people didn't have to end the way it did."

Lyons discussed the inappropriateness of Columbus Day as a holiday. Many American Indians feel to celebrate the day when one culture uprooted another is disgraceful. These people believe this ostracism of American Indian culture has disenfranchised members of their race, he said.

As a result, some American Indians, such as Seneca tribe member Quigley, feel Columbus Day should be renamed 'Indigenous People Day.' In Berkeley, Calif., this is already the case and the new name serves to raise awareness about Native American culture.

Quigley also directed her ideas to education students. As vice chairwoman of the National Indian Education Association, a presidential-appointed position, she talked about the need for American Indian awareness in the classroom.

"It cannot be expected that every teacher have a complete understanding of every culture, but teachers should be taking at least one course during college on indigenous history," Quigley said.

Citing her own poor experiences with her son's elementary school's treatment of Columbus Day, Quigley said teachers need to "teach in a culturally responsive manner."

"I'm surprised this isn't a bigger issue," said Meghan Tertocha, an undecided freshman in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. "Our nation is still in the process of colonization. We are still driving Indian tribes out of their homelands."

The protesting of a national Columbus Day is important to the American Indian people and should have its place on SU's campus as well, said panel speakers. Following the lecture series Monday evening, students, faculty and city residents, many of whom were American Indian, joined in a moment of silence for the cultures that were uprooted by colonialism at a candlelight vigil.

Professor of law Robert Odawi and a Seneca tribe member spoke to the future of the current holiday with regard to its state of existence.

"Only when there are no more Indians will Columbus Day be necessary," he said.

pictograph divider
Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us
Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us
pictograph divider
  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  
Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 of Vicki Barry and Paul Barry.
Canku Ota Logo   Canku Ota Logo
The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the
Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 of Paul C. Barry.
All Rights Reserved.

Site Meter
Thank You

Valid HTML 4.01!