VOICES PROFILE: SWARTHMORE INDIGENOUS STUDENT ASSOCIATION (SISA) MEMBERS REFLECT ON COLUMBUS DAY
Julia “Tenhvssehvyv” Wakeford '18
Heritage: Mvskoke, Tzo-Ya-Ha
Hometown: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Major: Political Science/ Art History
Interested in Indigenous Sovereignty and Policymaking
"To me, Columbus Day is an easily recognizable example of the sort of settler colonialism that persists throughout our lives. Being indigenous is the most beautiful thing, in my opinion. So long as there are people out there who are fine with upholding anything that celebrates our pain, that beauty will be under attack. "
Tessa Jalene '19
Heritage: Mikinaakwajiwing Ojibwe
Hometown: West Fargo, North Dakota
Major: Political Science
"Indigeneity embodies resilience. The Zapatistas popularized the line 'They tried to bury us but they didn't know that we were seeds,' and whenever I think of myself, my mother, and indigenous peoples throughout the Americas I always find myself coming back to this translation."
Sam Leonard '20
Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
Planned Psychology Major
Interested in Mental Health Services and Counseling Development on indigenous reservations
"To me, Columbus Day affirms the tragedy of historical alteration/ ignorance in the name patriotism. While every tribe may have their own language and each clan their own customs we are all from the same earth and the same sky, as long as we breathe there is hope."
Sky Deswert '19
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Major: Psychology/PhilosophyInterested in becoming a therapist accessible in particular to Indigenous people
"Columbus Day is a reminder of why my family has lost much of their culture and language and of what my family could still have if it were not for settler colonialism."
Ian Ortiz '20
Major: Biology, Environmental Studies
Family origins: Picuris Pueblo NM, Lakota territory SD
Hometown: Denver, CO
"What being indigenous means to me is accepting the fact parts of my identity and culture have been taken from me, but we fight for all we have left that keeps us bound together. In a way this can be a source of empowerment that brings us closer."
Heritage: Dakota Sioux
Hometown: La Selva Beach California
Interested in entrepreneurship/ non-profits
"Columbus represents the pain of genocide and the hardship of being native to a land that was stolen from you and continues to be stolen today."
"I am Dizaah (otherwise known as Zapotec). My family is from the valleys of Oaxaca, Mexico. To me, my indigeneity is a huge part of who I am, especially as a reformed self-hating brown women. In the process of learning to love myself, I learned to love my history and native language, to regularly honor my ancestors and their resistance, and to relearn the religious and cultural practices of my people.
I like indie/rock/cumbia/funk/oldies/hip-hop music; ceramics are dope; and I have a radio show w my homegirl called 2KraftyTrixx where we focus on storytelling, craft-making, and fostering a safe space for women, non-binary, and two spirited folk, of color."
Name: Keyanna Ortiz-Cedeno '19
Heritage: Blackfoot, Apache, Crow
Hometown: Portland, Texas
Interested in the Decriminalization of Homelessness and Access to Decent and Affordable Housing, Particularly in Coastal Communities with Tourism
Dependant Economies-- Rural and Post-Disaster Homelessness
major: Political Science/ Peace and Conflict Studies
"Sincerely repentant and reflective nations to not continue to celebrate and protect the Legacies of those they recognize to have committed atrocious acts of violence against Other human beings on their soil. Especially when said violence is committed in honor of The nation, it becomes of the utmost importance to distance the values of the country from The expressed values of those who were willing to eliminate others to develop or “better” it. THe galvanization of Christopher Columbus in the Unites States, despite is well known record Of genocide, rape, and torture of Indigenous people, is reflective to me of the widespread mindset that Native American lives and history were a sad but small price to pay for today’s technological advancements and prosperity in the U.S.A. That most of them are long gone and we are like one of those endangered turtles with only one, aging male left alive. My dad is half Taino, from Puerto Rico. When you celebrate today I would like you to take a moment to recognize that you are celebrating the murder and relocation of his people- my people. My mom is half Native North American. my grandfather and his family are the price we paid for this land. There are plenty of us still here. I want you to do more than remember us, but while you are doing so, please choose to remember us, and our oppressors, correctly."
eDITOR'S NOTE: A NOTE FROM SISA-Please wear all black on Monday, "Columbus Day", in recognition and remembrance of all of the lives lost to Christopher Columbus and his legacy of settler colonialism, and in support of indigenous and colonized people across the globe.