As we wrap up semi-finals and transition to break, most students seem excited to go home and celebrate Thanksgiving. It’s been a long and fast-paced semester without many breaks, and being able to relax will come as a relief. For many Cornellians, this holiday is an opportunity to catch up with loved ones and express what we’re grateful for. However, it’s important to recognize the origins of our traditions and critically examine the history that we teach.
Many American students are still taught the story of Thanksgiving as a peaceful event that celebrated the unity between pilgrims and Native Americans. However, this is far from the truth.
A few days ago, I began seeing numerous people on my Facebook feed “checking in” to Standing Rock Indian Reservation. As of yesterday, over 1.3 million people have done this. I knew this was related to the Dakota Access Pipeline, but I was confused by its direct purpose. Just like people were able to put a French flag banner over their profile pictures to show their solidarity with Paris after the terrorist attack, I assumed this was a similar type of coming together. Checking in to the location on Facebook serves as a way to make a statement against something that is capable of inflicting disastrous consequences.
The celebrations, called Indigenous Peoples’ Day: A Week of Celebration, come about six months after the Student Assembly passed a resolution deciding to recognize Indigenous People’s Day in lieu of Columbus Day.
By KATE POOR
Human civilization has existed in the Ithaca area for over 13,000 years. Long before A. D. White, Ezra Cornell or any of the European colonizers, the lands surrounding Cayuga’s waters were settled by the Cayuga people and the larger Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Centuries of imperial conquest, genocide and systematic degradation of indigenous culture decimated the original populations of North America, resulting in the seizure of land for the new colonial entity. As professors, activists and historians have pointed out, Cornell University is founded upon these stolen lands. While much of the discourse surrounding forcible land acquisition by the European colonizers situates conquests in the past, the vestiges of imperialism continue to unfold today.