What comes to mind when you think of Columbus Day?
Maybe you think of major sales in the stores or a day off from school.
But the Native American community at Fresno City College voiced a much different view of Columbus Day on Oct. 9.
“Columbus day celebrates racism, imperialism and genocide,” Bernard Navarro, instructor of American Indian Studies, said. “Indigenous People’s day celebrates the beautiful Native cultures of the Americas.”
About 100 students, staff and guests marched around campus to the tune of Native American drums and chants, holding anti-Columbus Day and anti-Trump signs.
Afterward, the group converged in front of the main fountain area for a series of speeches by several instructors, including Navarro, English instructor Lee Herrick, and creative writing instructor Kenneth Chacon.
This year’s event also featured traditional Native American prayer, music and dance.
The Blood River Singers performed traditional Native American music with drums and chants and a dancer in authentic Native clothing performed a ceremonial healing dance.
The dancer’s dress was covered in cones that symbolized prayers. “When this dance originated, there were 365 cones on the dress, one for each day of the year,” Stoney Dodson of the River Blood Singers said.
“We are small but a vocal population at FCC,” Navarro said about the Native American population. “I hope that our student body continues to grow in their knowledge about racism, violence toward Native people and colonialism.”
Navarro has helped to organize events on Columbus Day in previous years to protest its celebration.
The event was organized by American Indian Studies students with the help of Navarro.