Administrators, students condemn flyers promoting apparel featuring the Dartmouth Indian

by The Dartmouth Senior Staff | 10/13/15 2:43pm

On Monday — the federal holiday Columbus Day — posters advertising apparel featuring the Dartmouth Indian appeared in various residence halls on campus. Today, Provost Carolyn Dever and Dean of the College Rebecca Biron co-signed an email to campus condemning the flyers, calling the act of distributing them around campus “cowardly and disrespectful.”

Dever and Biron wrote that the act contradicts the College’s commitment to maintaining an “inclusive and respectful educational community” and called on community members to promote a positive living and learning environment.

Shortly after, the Student Assembly sent a campus-wide email calling the incident a "premeditated act of racism" and saying that the Assembly supports the Native Americans at Dartmouth community in condemning the use of the Indian mascot that "objectifies and dehumanizes a community of students at Dartmouth." The image, the Assembly wrote, misrepresents the NAD community and the values of the larger Dartmouth community. It called for the campus to refuse to "tolerate such deliberates acts of hate speech."

A member of the NAD community was recently egged on campus, the Assembly wrote, an action it described as "violent and destructive." The Assembly also noted that flyers appeared during the final days of the Native American Fly-In Program, which brings perspective Native students to campus. It also called upon administrators to open "a full inquiry" into the incident.

The Assembly wrote that in response to the incident, Safety and Security officers will be performing additional rounds in front of the Native American House and will be offering temporary housing reassignment for Native students living in the house. Dick's House counselors have also been made available.

The College chapter ofthe National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also sent a campus-wide email stating that they stand with the NADcommunity and encouraging students to file bias incident reports.

The posters read, “Celebrate Columbus Day all year ’round with vintage Dartmouth Indian gear!” — the phrase “Columbus Day” was crossed out and replaced with “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.” “Native American and proud to be one? Hate political correctness? Love Dartmouth? Don’t want the Old Traditions to fail?” it read before advertising a CafePress website selling various apparel and other miscellaneous items featuring the Dartmouth Indian mascot. Originally offering dozens of items, the website now offers only a hat, mug and ornament.

This incident follows a demonstration held by dozens of Native American students on Monday in which students held signs on the Green and outside of Parkhurst Hall bearing slogans such as “I am a survivor of genocide,” “This is Abenaki land” and “We are still here.” Some signs wished onlookers a “Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”

Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a proposed replacement for Columbus Day that would recognize the lives and history of North American indigenous tribes. The holiday originated in Berkeley, California, and several major American cities — such as Minneapolis, Seattle and Denver — have officially recognized Indigenous Peoples’ Day. This October, Governor Bill Walker of Alaska issued an executive proclamation renaming Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the state.

The College does not officially recognize Columbus Day, and regularly scheduled courses met on Monday.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.