NC State Celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Talley Student Union view from elevator

Students walk on campus by the Talley Student Union. Photo by Marc Hall

1490 WhoThis year, students successfully brought Indigenous Peoples’ Day to NC State, a historical first. Read student Karli Moore’s account of how this celebration began and grew into a full day of programs held on Monday, October 12, 2015, culminating in the “1490 Who” panel sponsored by Native American Student Affairs.

The Indigenous Peoples’ Day movement began as a way to transform how we think about colonization in the Americas. For many people, celebrating Christopher Columbus as a national holiday is the equivalent of praising him for the genocide, slavery and rape of millions of indigenous people. By turning the spotlight to indigenous peoples, we can have conversations about the lasting impact of colonization and make strides toward a stronger future. We also make the statement that resilience is something to respect while rooting out cruelty, bigotry and evil.

As a part of the larger Native community in the United States, a few students at NC State decided to bring the Indigenous Peoples’ Day movement here. The topic was first discussed in Student Government, where a diverse group of senators spent hours debating and finally passing legislation to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. From there, we took the topic to social media, hosted campus forums and even inspired action at other institutions.

This year we observed the first Indigenous Peoples’ Day on campus. Countless hours of student involvement culminated with a robust list of programs for the day. Students gathered late Sunday night to paint the tunnel with a logo created by Sadie Red Wing, a Native graduate student in the College of Design (many of whom gathered again on Monday night to re-create the image after an unfortunate setback). Student Government led a petition signing on Wolf Plaza which has garnered support from over 200 people so far. University Dining sponsored the Indigenous North America dinner at Clark. Finally, Native American Student Affairs hosted “1490 Who,” a panel discussion about pre-Columbus indigenous culture, the atrocities of colonization and the lasting impact on Indian law today.

Overall, the support received from the NC State community has been reassuring. For every person who has claimed “political correctness is ruining America” or “you people are too sensitive” or “the weak should fear the strong,” there has been someone to say “I hear you and I support you.” And that is the beauty of NC State. Students come here from across the state, nation and world and are given the tools to make change for the better. I hope you decide to join us in this movement, and you can express your support by signing our petition.

Karli Moore (Lumbee), Alpha Pi Omega Sorority, Inc. and Student Government