In addition to the other letters written in support of Indigenous Peoples Day, I would like to ask parents to join me in support of Article 34 – Indigenous Peoples Day Recognition at the Annual Town Meeting on May 15th.
Looking at the facts (as illustrated in previous Letters to the Editor in support of Indigenous Peoples Day and are provided on the Bedford IPD webpage, IPDBedford.org), I find it easy to support Indigenous Peoples Day. I find it much harder to justify a celebration of the atrocities associated with Christopher Columbus.
Like many of us, I grew up with the narrative of Columbus as a hero. This is why it is important for me to provide my children with a factual account of history. I accomplish this by finding age-appropriate ways to talk to my kids about these topics. We have read books by Indigenous authors and books about Indigenous Nations. We talk about Indigenous people and their history. Perhaps most importantly, we talk about their present-day story. And it is this present-day story that we hope to change when Bedford votes on May 15th to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. We cannot change the history, but we can change the future for Indigenous People and for our children and how they learn about Indigenous Nations.
If you have reservations about discussing Indigenous Peoples Day with your young children, or if you are concerned about what may be shared at school, know that there are many resources to help. I have found it particularly helpful to utilize the internet to find age-appropriate materials. I also have the utmost confidence in our school system to continue the conversations we start at home in a supportive and educational manner. Studies have shown that young children recognize and comprehend aspects of differential treatment. Our children are already absorbing the impacts of differential treatment whether we, as parents or educators, discuss it with them or not. This makes it our responsibility to address what they have already seen and learned. We need to help them understand the historical and current context of Indigenous Peoples Day. This will provide a space at home and school for their learning and growth.
The pain of watching a young child learn about social and racial injustice is something that I know all too well. Explaining social and racial injustice to my multi-racial kids has brought tears to my eyes at times. However, it is important to create a space for our kids to explore this. Only then can we create a community where we can uplift, celebrate, and support one another.
As noted in the Indigenous Peoples Day statement on the IPD website, “[b]y making this change, Bedford will honor the diverse cultures and contributions of this land’s Indigenous peoples, acknowledge the suffering they faced during and after European conquest, and create an environment for truth and healing in our community.” Join me on May 15th in supporting this change. Vote for the truth. Together we can both right a wrong and foster a better tomorrow for all of our children.