SF State Reacts to Indigenous People's Day
October 19, 2004 3:21 PM
A 500-year-old event stirred emotions with SF State students Thursday, Oct. 14 as they debated amongst themselves on what must be the focus of the Columbus/Indigenous People’ s Day celebration.
"This is a day to celebrate the struggle and resistance of the indigenous people to maintain their religious, their music and their culture,” said Maritza Torres, 20, a political science major and one of the coordinators of the event.
The organizers and participants of the event celebrated the holiday with aboriginal music, and gracious danzantes clad in colorful indigenous regalias as they performed a religious dance “that is like a prayer,” according to Michelle Moreira, 19, an undeclared major and a SKIN member.
The event made some students question the validity of the holiday.
“I do not know why it is called Columbus Day,” said Jesus McKeag, 30, a civil engineer major. “It should be more dignified to celebrate the indigenous day,” said the Tsalagi-Cherokee decendent.
"I don’t have any problem with [the holiday] being called Columbus Day,” said Scott Cox, 20, a history major. “It is hard not to be moved by their culture,” he said enjoying the event under the sunny sky.
Columbus Day has been celebrated nationwide since 1968, and it has sparked debate ever since.
“Why should we celebrate a person who massacred a group of people?” asked Jeannette Santillan, 23, a broadcasting major. “The indigenous people were here before [Columbus] came,” she said. “That is an essential part of who we are.”
Jeni Lucero Rivera, 21, agreed. “Celebrating Columbus Day is an insult to our people,” she said. “It is not the artifacts that they left us but the values.”
Students will debate this holiday for years to come. But SF State student, Scott Cox summed-up the way society tends to brush off these events, “It is kind of sad that this happens once a year, afterwards we get back to the European culture.”
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