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Indigenous Peoples’ Day: The First of Many to Come

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Indigenous Peoples’ Day: The First of Many to Come

Retrieved from Marissa Widdifield

Retrieved from Marissa Widdifield

Retrieved from Marissa Widdifield

Retrieved from Marissa Widdifield

Marissa Widdifield, Diversity, Social justice, and Inclusion Reporter

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Oct. 8 is no longer “Columbus Day” in La Crosse County. Instead, La Crosse recognized its first “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” on Oct. 8, 2018. Daniel Green, a professor of Education at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, began working on creating this change decades ago and today he had the gratification of seeing his work awarded. Green and his students in ‘Multicultural Education’ hosted an event on Oct. 8 from 2p.m. to 3p.m. in room 150 of Murphy Library to celebrate this day and inform UWL students, staff, and faculty about Columbus and colonialism.  

Katie Jahns, a junior at the UWL, said “We only hear the white, Americanized history…this event is raising awareness.” Her presentation was “Pin the Dagger on Columbus.” Other presentations included an information table about diseases that Columbus brought to the Americas which killed over 90% of the indigenous population, a fact vs. myth poster that had emphasizes of the fact that Indigenous People are killed in police encounters at a higher rate than any other racial group, and tables littered with racist paraphernalia such as Redskins gear and children’s books.  

A little after the event started, Green addressed the event-goers and presenters by saying, “This has been a long time coming!” Green explained, “We first wanted to bust open Columbus as therapy by whacking a symbol of colonization.” This symbol of colonization was a ship in piñata form that Green busted open with a baseball bat, flinging candy around the room. “Take that Santa Maria,” he said after hitting it open. Later into the event, an Education Studies student was given the duty of hitting a Columbus piñata as well. 

Alex Baubrly, a student at UWL and member of Green’s ‘Multicultural Education’ class said “Our assignment was a social justice project…to create something wonderful for Indigenous Peoples Day.” He said the purpose of ‘Multicultural Education’ is to show that racism still exists. Baubrly’s named his presentation, “The Wheel of Negativity” where one could spin a board game wheel and read the corresponding fact about Columbus and his colonialist efforts.  

When asked about the purpose of the event, Baubrly stated, “We’re trying to get the truth out there about what isn’t taught…also free candy.” 

In an interview with Green, he says that anyone can enroll in ‘Multicultural Education’ which is why it’s included in the General Education category. “I started more or less twenty years ago and it was like pulling teeth,” Green recalled. He explained that in higher education, one starts to learn the truth about American history and Columbus. He said, “I felt responsible as those educated to give back and dismantle the truth…Now it’s time to party like its 1999!” 

He described Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a “symbol of unity and comradery.” 

Green also gave great credit to the students in his ‘Multicultural Education’ class. “It’s all their efforts,” he said. When asked about future plans for Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Green said it all depends on the students.  

 

 

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