Christopher Columbus isn’t as loved as he once was.
As children, we were taught that he was the brave man who discovered our great nation. In the past few years, however, many have brought awareness to how Columbus was not only an explorer, but a cruel colonizer who mistreated, enslaved, and slaughtered Native Americans.
The Friends of Advocates for Native Nations, F.A.N.N. Club, continued this critical view of Columbus on Wed., Oct. 12th in the SMC.
“The purpose of [the Dream Warriors] event was to counter typical American ideas of Columbus Day and American history, and to introduce Millersville to the Dream Warriors and their mission,” Tabatha Smith, the President of F.A.N.N. Club, said.
From 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., the organization, a partner to the nonprofit Advocates for Native Nations, showed the documentary The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code followed by special performances from Hip Hop artist Frank Waln, poet Tanaya Winder and dancers the Sampson Brothers—all activists and Native Americans.
“Many people are not aware of what really happened when Europeans first started to intrude into the coast of what we know now as the United States,” Smith commented, “so we wanted to use the film as an opener to the concert performance where the Dream Warriors would talk more about the lasting effects of colonization Native Americans still feel today.”
The Dream Warriors, a collective of indigenous artists managed by Tanaya Winder, performed in front of a crowd of sixty in the MPR, musically entrancing the crowd with their emotional songs and heartfelt words. In a stunning show, Waln performed new track “Wild West” on his knees, ending the song with a loud gunshot as he is symbolically shot.
“I am sure [the audience] was shocked to see the violence and torture that colonization brought to these lands, but that is an important lesson to learn,” Smith stated about the event as a whole. “Children are taught in school that Native American people and their cultures disappeared when the Europeans came, and so they grow up and do not realize that things like a sports team called the ‘Redskins,” Disney movies like Pocahontas and Peter Pan, and wearing headdresses as a fashion statement are all very offensive.”
These subtle notions are what Smith and F.A.N.N. desired to counteract. By coordinating this event, the group wanted to celebrate Native American culture, performed by Native Americans who wish to both preserve their heritage and inform others on the ugly truth behind Christopher Columbus and his savage mistreatment of America’s indigenous people.
“Our mission is to spread awareness of Native American culture and issues facing Native Americans today, such as extreme poverty and systematic racism,” Smith said.
In light of the Standing Rock protests in North Dakota, F.A.N.N. could not have planned this event at a better time. Hundreds upon hundreds of Native Americans, most from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, have gathered to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline, which they claim would poison their water if it ruptures as well as desecrate sacred Native American sites and burial ground. To this day, Native Americans as well as other activists, such as actress Shailene Woodley, have joined to challenge the oil company threatening their land.
In their shared view of preserving Native American culture, F.A.N.N. and the Dream Warriors gathered to challenge Americans’ typical views and expectations of Native American heritage and Christopher Columbus.
“From this experience, we hope the audience learned more about [Native American] history and were inspired and encouraged to join in support of keeping Native American culture alive,” Smith said.