September 19, 2018, Adrian, Mich. – The Adrian Dominican Sisters will celebrate Indigenous People’s Day on Monday, October 8, 2018, with a special 10:30 a.m. Mass incorporating some aspects of Native American spirituality, such as smudging and drumming. Sisters who have some Native American blood or who have at one time ministered with Native Americans will be recognized.
Sister Susan Gardner, OP, Director of the Native American Apostolate for the Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan, will offer a presentation at 1:30 p.m., “Effects of the Doctrine of Discovery Today and the Boarding School Era.” Sister Susan will also bring staff members of the parish where she ministers, St. Kateri Tekakwitha in Suttons Bay, Michigan.
The Mass and presentation are free and open to the public. If you plan to attend either, please contact Sister Kathleen Nolan, OP, at 517-266-3403 to help in the planning of the event.
In celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the Adrian Dominican Sisters will join 55 cities and five states that celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day rather than Columbus Day. Five cities in Michigan celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day: Alpena, Ann Arbor, East Lansing, Traverse City, and Ypsilanti.
Sister Kathleen, Director of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, said Indigenous Peoples’ Day honors those who were already in the Americas when Christopher Columbus first came to the Western Hemisphere. The Spanish Conquistadores who followed Columbus brought great suffering to the native peoples of the Americas, she noted.
In a September 18 presentation to Adrian Dominican Sisters at the Motherhouse Campus, Sister Kathleen further explained the rationale for celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day rather than Columbus Day.
Columbus Day began in 1869 as a celebration of the people of Italian-American heritage and ultimately, in 1972, became a public holiday celebrated on the second Monday of October. In 1992, however, the 500th anniversary of the date that Columbus arrived in the Western Hemisphere (most likely the Bahamas) people began to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead, Sister Kathleeen explained.
“What we celebrate as Americans reveals the character of our country,” she said. “It’s time to set the record straight. Long before 1492, millions of people were living in thriving societies with complex governments and cultures across the entire American continent.” Sister Kathleen showed a nine-minute video, “Seven Reasons Why Columbus Did Not Discover America,” outlining the civilizations living in the Americas and the other mariners who, centuries earlier, had landed in the Americas.
“Columbus Day represents the violent history of the colonization of the Western Hemisphere,” Sister Kathleen said. “Indigenous peoples have suffered tremendously from attempt after attempt and policy after policy to eradicate native cultures and way of life.” She added that it is “more fitting” to acknowledge and recognize the indigenous peoples “who were here first and persevered and continue to share so much of their knowledge, culture, and understanding of our relationship to Earth and land.”
Feature photo at top: Members of the Dishshii' Bikoh' Apache Group from Cibecue, Arizona demonstrate the Apache Crown Dance at Grand Canyon National Park in November of 2010 as part of Native American Heritage Month. (CC BY 2.0)