Groups push to reject celebration of Columbus Day


A social justice protest Monday is rejecting the celebration of Christopher Columbus and calling for a future that respects collaboration and equality.

“What we’re currently celebrating in this holiday is not true history,” said DeShea Blunier, a member of SURJ South Bend. It’s an American myth that we’ve kind of made to fit different political agendas throughout the course of our history.”

It's a trend picking up momentum around the country, replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day.

Several cities and a few states have already switched from celebrating the explorer to those who were colonized.

This year both Los Angeles and Austin, Texas joined that list. South Bend still celebrates Columbus Day.

In 2015 members the South Bend Common Council brought up a bill that would officially change the holiday's name to Indigenous Peoples Day, but it was tabled indefinitely.

The protest hosted Monday by SURJ seeks to bring that issue back to the forefront of city leader’s minds, making indigenous people the focus.

“When we make these people sort of the secondary characters in this story and come at it with this very Eurocentric view and idolization of this person, we remove some of the humanity from these people who suffered this,” said Blunier.

SURJ is a group focusing on social justice in the country. One main focus of SURJ is to achieve this social justice through education and mobilization.

The protest Monday is about shifting a focus.

“When we shift a focus to Indigenous Peoples Day, we then tell their real story. The real story of things that have happened to them and it allows us to better view where we’re at and understand where we’re at as a country,” said Blunier.

That protest is planned to start downtown at 4:30 p.m. on the corner of Main Street and Jefferson Boulevard. It will last an hour, followed by a SURJ meeting. Anyone is welcome to join.

Also at 4:30, the Native American Student Association with Notre Dame has planned a peaceful protest on campus.

The protest is calling on the university to recognize and address the needs of the native community on campus.

In a statement, the group mentioned famous artwork in Notre Dame’s building:

"The presence of the Gregori murals marginalizes native students on campus, and we ask that the university works with native students and community members to help solve this problem. We ask Notre Dame to "walk the walk" when it comes to racial justice and support native students, hire native faculty members, and educate the community about its own history with the Pokagon band of Potowatomi Indians."

                                                -- Native American Student Association of Notre Dame

That protest is scheduled to take place outside of the Golden Dome. The Native American Student Association says all are welcome to attend.

Share this article: