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Indigenous Day attacks Columbus 'myth'

A group of UNM students would like to see Columbus Day traded for Indigenous Day.
Native American Studies Indigenous Research Group will celebrate Indigenous Day for the sixth year today, member Dina Gillio said. She said the celebration of Indigenous Day is important to many different cultures.

As a result, NASIRG is circulating a petition calling for UNM to recognize Indigenous Day instead of Columbus day every Oct. 12.

Gillio said NASIRG hosts Indigenous Day activities to educate students about how Christopher Columbus and Western expansion have impacted indigenous cultures.

“It happened about six years ago, when the students from the Native American studies department just got sick of hearing about Columbus Day,” Gillio said. “Knowing about the history and how mythological it is to celebrate Columbus Day is just important to Native Americans — especially at the University.”

Gillio said some highlights of Indigenous Day include a film screening in the SUB theater and the “Rock Your Mocs” event in SUB ballroom C. She said “Rock Your Mocs” is an opportunity for participants to talk, listen to music and speak on an open microphone. Gillio said the movie being shown in the SUB, “Noho Hewa: The Wrongful Occupation of Hawai’i”, is a documentary made by a native Hawaiian, Keala Kelly. She said Kelly has traveled from Hawaii to UNM to show her film and have a discussion afterward with students.

“This year we are bringing out a native Hawaiian activist and filmmaker who made this film about the Hawaiian sovereignty movement,” Gillio said. “It’s a documentary, so it’s a really big deal, because we’re bringing her all the way from Hawaii.”

Lani Tsinnijinnie, NASIRG member, said the group wants all UNM students to participate in Indigenous Day events.

“We’re encouraging everyone to participate,” Tsinnijinnie said. “It’s not just a day for native people — it’s a day for everyone. It’s about bringing people together instead of being divisive.”

Tsinnijinnie said one of her favorite parts of Indigenous Day in the past was the “Rock Your Mocs” event, because of the fun and informative environment.
“I think every year my favorite part of the day is when we get to go to the Student Union atrium and have speeches and express our feelings about the day,” she said. “It’s also a way of sharing our issues and our cultures with the other students at UNM.”

Tsinnijinnie said Indigenous Day is a good way to meet new people and learn about their cultures.

“UNM is such a diverse community,” she said. “There are a lot of different cultures represented on campus, but I don’t know how many students actually get to learn about them. It’s a great environment to be open-minded and learn about different experiences that people have.”

*Indigenous Day sponsored by NASIRG

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Sunrise Ceremony 7 a.m. Johnson Field
Breakfast potluck 8:30-11 a.m. Native American Studies Office (Mesa Vista 3080)
Indigenous Day Declaration 12-1 p.m. SUB atrium
Film Screening: “Noho Hewa: The Wrongful Occupation of Hawaii” 4-8 p.m. SUB theater

Petition available for signature at each event*


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