About a week after Grand Forks City Council members agreed to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day, UND has followed suit.
With little fanfare, the school’s academic calendars were updated last week to name Monday, Oct. 14, Indigenous Peoples Day. The holiday named after the Italian sailor and forefather of widely violent North American colonialism no longer appears on those calendars.
Meloney Linder, UND vice president for marketing and communications, said the university wanted to match what the city voted to do last week. The city’s resolution encourages the university and Grand Forks Public Schools to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day.
“UND strives to be inclusive and a welcoming community,” Linder said. “So, we made the change on our university calendar from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day to honor the Native American culture that’s a part of UND’s history, as well as North Dakota.”
A change to the university’s academic calendar does not have to be approved by North Dakota’s State Board of Higher Education.
The next step will be advocating for Grand Forks Public Schools to do the same, said Courtney Davis Souvannasacd, a Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians enrollee who was a public face for the push to institute Indigenous Peoples Day at city hall.
“We want to say, ‘hey, this is what we’ve changed on a city level. What would be the steps to get it implemented in the school? Do you need curriculum? Do you need people to come and speak with the classes?” Davis Souvannasacd said. “Try to get a better sense of the next steps of how do we really do a good job of making sure it expands just past the city resolution.”
No measure speaking to the replacement, or non-replacement, of Columbus Day has come before Grand Forks’ school board for its consideration since the city’s decision.
School Board Chair Bill Palmiscno said he’d want to listen to members of the community -- “not so much” people from outside it -- and see what they want. He said he hopes the state as a whole considers making the change, but, when pressed, said he had no comment on how he’d vote if a measure replacing the day came before the board on which he sits.
“I’m just listening,” Palmiscno said.
A celebration on the new holiday is in the works, too. The tentative plan is an event at the Fire Hall Theater on Oct. 14, but details beyond that are still coming together, Davis Souvannasacd said.