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North American Indigenous Student Organization protests Columbus Day

October 11, 2011

Marching from the Union to the rock on Farm Lane, signs in hand and speaking up for their cause, the North American Indigenous Student Organization made their presence known on campus Monday.

The North American Indigenous Student Organization, or NAISO, held their event to bring awareness to another of side of Christopher Columbus’ legacy, with the hope of changing Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day.

NAISO co-chair Sean Patrick, a French senior, said the holiday is unique to American Indians because other racial groups don’t experience holidays based on a period of time where they experienced violence.

“To the larger American community, (Columbus Day) is a day off work or school for the man who discovered America,” Patrick said. “We see the celebration of a man who brought with him genocide, rape, slavery, and set the foundation for the mistreatment of people of color for generations.”

With signs reading “Indigenous Spartans Unite” and “Columbus, we are still here,” the group made their way to the rock of Farm Lane and engaged in an open discussion about the issues facing American Indians today.

Kinesiology sophomore Jessica Rivard also serves as NAISO co-chair and said she was glad to see members from the Coalition of Racial and Ethnic Students come out to support the cause.
“It’s great to see a bunch of people from different groups here together, united to support a cause,” Rivard said.

One of the cultural groups represented at the event was Culturas de las Razas Unidas, or CRU, a student organization devoted to Latino unity.

CRU vice chair Jesus Rodriguez, an advertising sophomore, said he has noticed similarities between the experiences of American Indians and Mexicans and appreciated the opportunity to show his support.

“Columbus didn’t discover the Americas,” Rodriguez said. “We’re giving credit to the wrong person and disregarding a whole group of people.”

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