Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Native American Heritage Month

     November is Native American Heritage Month! Over the last few weeks, we have been celebrating this at Ramapo College.  I’ve found that November is an especially relevant time to recognize the rich and occasionally tragic history of this group.  This is because of the many national holidays observed in November that intersect with this culture.  In my opinion, the way that Columbus Day and Thanksgiving are represented can easily cloud, dilute, or misrepresent the cultural values of Native Americans.  Don't even get me started on the appropriation of Native American culture for Halloween costumes, which falls just before the heritage month.
     Christopher Columbus, famed for supposedly discovering America, was in fact a pretty wretched person.  He treated the Native Americans with absolutely no respect, manipulating them and claiming ownership over land that he had no right to take.  His company assaulted many tribe members, and his actions led to disease and death within the Native American community.  Thanksgiving was, in reality, a deceitful trap that resulted in the slaughter of Native Americans.
     So, given the more accurate historical accounts, one must ask why we continue to praise these two holidays?  Even if it would be deemed inappropriate to educate young children about the horrible truth, I would hope that it would at least be possible to stop perpetuating the rosy image of the events that children currently receive.
     At this point, stories like that of the first Thanksgiving and Columbus arriving in America are used as tools to teach our youth about values like sharing, cooperation, and understanding.  I am most certainly not arguing against teaching those skills!  However, I do think that altering historical events to suit the needs of the classroom is unethical and erases and invalidates the lived experiences of Native Americans as a group.
     So, this Thanksgiving, please do spend time with your loved ones and think of all the things in your life that you are thankful for.  And be sure to include feelings of gratitude about never having your land, family, or life stolen from you.  Celebrate the values the holiday has come to stand for without forgetting the tragic history associated with the month of November.

And most importantly, do not, under any circumstances, forget to make a hand turkey!

1 comment:

  1. Frauengruppen Definitely not experiencing like we can easily continue manifesting wishes we all once were able to delight in is usually demoralizing