The Gatepost Editorial: Focus on Native American culture needed
By The Gatepost Editorial Board
Monday is Indigenous Peoples’ Day and we cannot forget that Framingham State is on Indigenous land.
This land the campus was built on originally belonged to the Nipmuc tribal nations, according to Framingham State’s Land Acknowledgement.
The University states, “We acknowledge the painful history of genocide and forced removal from this territory, and we honor and respect the many diverse Indigenous peoples still connected to this land on which we gather.”
FSU justified making this declaration because the University said it believes “we need to build our mindfulness of our present participation.”
Framingham State’s current seal and logo, reflecting that of the state’s, depicts an Algonquian Native American holding an arrow facing downward to signify peace.
However, to some local tribal leaders, this serves as a reminder of white supremacy, genocide, and violence.
At the same time, other tribal leaders argue if it is the only representation they can receive, they are willing to accept it.
When former Vice President of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement Constanza Cabello worked here in 2020-21, changes to the seal were underway and the Board of Trustees was considering designs to be used in the interim.
Though those plans were put on pause when she left the University, Dan Magazu, director of communications, said the seal and logo will still be changed as a part of Framingham State’s rebranding.
Following these reband changes, if the University chooses not to include Native American imagery in the new seal, an opportunity for representation of Indigenous Peoples will be lost.
Therefore, the University will need to find new ways to fulfill this promise of acknowledgement and mindfulness of our presence on Indigenous land.
Representation of Native American people, culture, and history is severely inadequate on campus.
Our current curriculum falls short in its inclusion of Native American history, literature, and art. There are approximately three courses in the catalog solely dedicated to educating students on Indigenous People, and only a handful of others where it is part of the focus of the course.
A few events were held last year during Native American Heritage Month, and we thank Millie González, dean of the library, for using the grant she earned to honor Indigenous work.
But we need to keep going.
If we are to be mindful of our participation in the use of Indigenous land, we need to do more.
We need to be exposed to and appreciate the art and literature produced by Indigenous People as well as their history in this hemisphere before Europeans arrived.
Our community needs to learn about Indigenous culture and understand the effects colonization has had in causing a mass genocide of Native American populations.
We need to recognize that we are on stolen land.
Students are getting an education on that land, so we should learn its value while we’re at it.
There are plenty of ways this campus can provide the opportunity to do so.
The University can expand the number of courses that focus on Native American history and culture.
More events should be held featuring Native American speakers.
Indigenous art can be featured in our Mazmanian Gallery.
The University’s land acknowledgement can be placed somewhere more visible to our campus community.
And we can hold a celebration with our local Indigenous tribes in honor of Monday’s holiday.
There are so many possibilities and opportunities, but they need to be undertaken.
We may have a statement, but that does not mean we have put in the work to truly appreciate and acknowledge our presence on this land.
If we cannot take these steps, we do not deserve to be here.