Harvard University is the latest of a growing number of colleges to add “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” to its calendar, an effort, proponents say, to reject colonialism represented by Columbus Day.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day was first adopted in Berkeley, Calif. in 1992, but it’s recently become more popular on campuses nationwide.
Instead of celebrating explorer Christopher Columbus, students demonstrate against colonialism through events such as planting trees, hosting open mics to condemn so-called exploitation of weaker countries and providing guest lectures on Native American grievances.
Harvard’s decision comes a year after the Cambridge City Council unanimously decided to rename Columbus Day, The Harvard Crimson reported.
Nadeem Mazen, the Cambridge city councilor who proposed the renaming, said the move was intended to reclaim the day for Native Americans killed after Columbus landed.
“At a basic level, we’re saying ‘no’ to a day named after someone who was a tyrant, and was a torturer, and was a destroyer of Indigenous people, to turn this around and to honor those people without saying anything bad about other people,” he said.