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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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Native American club protests Columbus Day

Fifty-two people attended the screening of the documentary, “The Canary Effect,” on Oct. 13 in Administration Building-Room 160. The Native American Awareness Club sponsored it.

The event was hosted to inform students about why the club believes Columbus Day should be abolished. Ashleigh Brown, 21, the co-chair of the Native American Awareness Club, explained, “We tell our youth that Columbus is a hero, when in fact he discovered the Caribbean, and committed genocidal acts upon the native Taino people.”

The documentary went into detail about how Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the West Indies in 1492 affected the Native American race.

After discovering the Caribbean, Columbus was made governor of the Spanish colonies. Thus began his quest for God, glory and gold. The natives, however, did not know of any gold, and were forced to accept Christianity, facing torture or death.

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“Forcing your religion, beliefs, and culture on to another race is a genocidal act,” Brown said, adding, “This could have been avoided.” ?

During the question and answer portion of the event, U.S politics were brought up. Regarding the upcoming elections, Brown said that the threat of drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in Alaska, could lead to even more complications with the native people that live on that land.

“We are not a political group,” Brown said. “The educational awareness will always have something to do with U.S politics, due to the fact people occupied our lands through broken trees.”

The planning of the event led to some skepticism from the Associate Student Senate, because of the controversial nature of the event. “This event was a test for [the Senate],” explained James DiPaolo, vice president of external affairs. “Ashleigh had presented her passion for this event to the Senate, and it made it hard for us to understand the idea of it.”

When the senate was given the right information, they unanimously voted to fund the event. This information included a three-page essay written by a UCSB Native American studies student on the subject.

“I’m glad the turn out was good,” DiPaolo said. “This helped jump start the club.”

The club also set up booths on the West and East Campuses on Columbus Day. They provided brochures, and even created a mock graveyard to represent the number of Native Americans that were affected by these events in history.

“My hope is that more people get involved in Native American studies,” said Frank Arrendondo, the club’s other co-chair. “I would also like to encourage others in the Native community to get involved with the educational process.”

This is the first semester in ten years that the Native American Awareness Club has been active. They meet at 1 p.m. every Friday in the Campus Center clubroom. All are welcome. They are planning future events that will help educate and raise awareness about Native Americans.

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