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Happy Columbus Day…?

“Miami University and the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the relationship between a sovereign Tribal Nation and a public educational institution.” Anyway, Happy Columbus Day! See y’all in class…

Monday, Oct. 10 was Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a day meant to celebrate and remember the stolen lands upon which we stand and to remember the lives lost and the cultures destroyed by imperialism and colonialism.

Monday, Oct. 10 was also World Mental Health Day, a day meant to recognize mental health struggles and educate more people about what they truly mean, subverting common understandings of an important topic that affects a large percentage of the population.

Monday, Oct. 10 was, however, also recognized as a day to celebrate the onset of both genocide and colonialism that resulted in the massacre of countless indigenous people. The holiday to which I refer is, of course, Columbus Day.

There has been a long campaign to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day everywhere, thus eliminating the tragically misunderstood and wrongfully-celebrated Columbus Day. However, in Ohio, the state government classifies the day as Columbus Day. 

I absolutely do not have high hopes for this change. My faith in the Ohio State Government was depleted long ago (I believe I was still in the womb), but my faith in the Miami University administration still has a faint flicker. Yes, I am as shocked to be saying that as you are to be hearing it.

However, I have a good reason for this belief. 

It rhymes with “Fiami.” 

Ah, yes! The school that I currently attend is called Miami University. You know… like the indigenous tribe…

Our university so proudly touts its relationship with the Myaamia Tribe of Oklahoma and appears to make it clear that we are educated on lands stripped from said people. The Myaamia Center seeks to educate the student body about the tribe and its relationship to Miami, especially now, during the 50-year anniversary of this relationship. Even Art After Dark, one of MAP’s most popular semesterly events, touts a Myaamia weaving station year after year.

And yet, we still attend class on a day majoritively referred to as “Columbus Day” by the university.

I cite three sources: the “Holidays” policy, the “Holidays, Standard Work Week, Overtime Pay, and Compensatory Time” policy and the Holiday Schedule.

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The former two refer to the holiday exclusively as “Columbus Day,” while the latter refers to “Indigenous Peoples’ Day/Columbus Day.”

I’ve complained before about the nonsense that is Fall Break, and I see no reason to get deep into the failures of the fall semester schedule. However, seeing as Fall Break lands on the weekend directly preceding Indigenous Peoples’ Day and World Mental Health Day, why not give us a three-day weekend and use Monday as the third day?

Why not advocate for using it as a day of reflection and education about the Myaamia tribe? Why not advocate for mental health awareness on the worldwide day to which it is dedicated? 

Why not host events aimed at either or both of these incredibly important subjects and give often-ignorant students the opportunity to gain much-needed insight about the lands upon which we stand?

The time could be used so much more productively. It is far past time to observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day on its actual date rather than a day observed over Thanksgiving Break. It is far past time to absolve ourselves of the usage of the phrase and celebration of “Columbus Day.” 

Miami does not do nothing to educate its students about its relationship and history with Myaamia, but it does not do enough. Language is important. Reflection is important. Education is important. 

Use the time you have, Miami, to do what you should, not what you can. Make Fall Break worthwhile, and take Columbus Day off of your holiday schedule.

Do more.