Michael Honhongva: Marking indigenous resilience worldwide
"Indigenous Peoples’ Day commemorates the resilience of indigenous peoples worldwide, throughout campaigns of exploitation, prejudice, and outright genocide. But this year, you might know it as something different: the 518th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ landing in San Salvador. Columbus Day glorifies a history of injustice and historical fallacy; Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a chance to reevaluate. Even Yale, a bastion of progressivism, only employs two American Indian professors among nearly 3,000 faculty members.

But rather than observe an anti-Columbus Day, we choose to remember our indigenous ancestors and their strength in the face of oppression, racism and hostility. The survival, adaptation, expansion and continuation of indigenous peoples are surprising given the catastrophic mortality rates, assimilationist policies and historical white-washing they have suffered. Still, indigenous peoples are thriving all over the world.

From the Ainu of Japan to the Maori of New Zealand, indigenous peoples constitute a considerable share of the world’s population. Their common characteristic is that they are marginal to the states that claim jurisdiction over them. However, the experiences of these people have also fostered resistance and eventual revitalization.

The need for a solution to the problems plaguing indigenous people in such areas as human rights, education and health has resulted in considerable progress — perhaps most important, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Unfortunately, the United States was one of four countries who voted against the declaration. Despite this setback, we still work to reveal historical truths and reverse the tide of ignorance."

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Michael Eagleman Honhongva: Take back Columbus Day (The Yale Daily News 10/11)