The Native American Student Organization celebrated Columbus Day by “invading” classrooms in Pray-Harrold and Porter Monday, in protest of the holiday.
“We wanted to make people aware of what Columbus Day was really celebrating,” said Rebecca Thomas, a senior Political Science major.
The invasion was planned in advance with each professor, who allowed NASO to “invade” his or her class. The professors were given the script to look over and the day of the “invasion” the students in class were warned before the protesters entered the class.
“We didn’t want to scare anyone,” Thomas said.
NASO invaded five classrooms throughout the day. NASO members entered the classes with a flag and claimed the class as their own. After claiming the class they separated the class into groups with each group representing only one person.
The groups were asked questions pertaining to the history of Columbus Day. Only one person from each group was allowed to answer and this person was chosen at random.
If the group answered the question right, they were moved to the side of the room, and if they answered the question wrong, the group was moved to the back of the room.
One of the questions asked was “Where did Columbus first land?” The correct answer is Hispaniola.
After only one group was left, the NASO members said, “Congratulations, you have survived the invasion. The rest of you are either slaves or exterminated. This has been a demonstration of what Columbus Day really celebrates. Thank you for your time.”
The group worked together to pin-point key information that is either incorrectly taught or not taught at all in schools. The idea was to open people’s eyes to what Columbus Day has represented for Native Americans. They left handouts for the students to pick up about Columbus Day and provided more information about the history of the national holiday.
Seattle recently changed Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day, and other cities have started considering changing the name of Columbus Day. This is something NASO agrees with and hopes the change is made nationwide.
“We hope this event had an impact on those involved,” said Amber Morseau, a junior majoring in psychology.
NASO meets every Wednesday at 3:30 in the Pray-Harrold sixth floor lounge. More information about the organization can be found on EMU’s website.