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MIT must be aware of Native American feelings

In late June of this year, Texas Gov. Ann Richards signed a bill that made Martin Luther King's birthday into an official state holiday. In order to manage this, she decided to eliminate Columbus Day from the list of state-observed holidays. She, on that one day, presumably pleased most of the African-Americans and Native Americans.

"Why were the Native Americans pleased?" you might ask yourself.

In early October of 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on the shore of the Americas and began the genocide of the indigenous peoples. Richards possibly made her decision with this knowledge in mind.

However, most Americans, in the course of next year's Columbus weekend, will be celebrating his "discovery" of this continent. While engrossed in quincentenary festivities, they will inadvertently forget about the original inhabitants of this country, their stolen land, their horticulture and medical contributions and their near demise as a people by cultural genocide. During these celebrations, Native Americans will be unintentionally persecuted unless US citizens become more aware.

The MIT community showed native American Students its lack of knowledge in a similar way when the Class of 1992 In a similar but smaller way, the MIT population in its recent past has shown the Native American student its lack of knowledge. For example, when the 1992 class designed their class ring, theychose to put an engraving of Columbus on their class ring. This unconsciously showed their insensitivity toward Natives. Fortunately, through the actions of the Native American Student Association (NASA), the graduating class of 1992 recalled their decision. Their important action is a solution to the many years of ignorance.

MIT community members' attitudes toward the quincentennial have begun to change. Will MIT show the nation, as well as the world, the only solution, awareness? Or will MIT be silent?

Jody Clark '94->

NASA President->