Emma Jerzyk/Brown Daily Herald
Members of Native Americans at Brown circulated a petition requesting Fall Weekend be renamed as Indigenous People’s Day. Members are seen demonstrating for the change in 2015.

Acknowledging Natives: Brown Changes Fall Holiday to Indigenous People’s Day


In April 2009, faculty at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island renamed Columbus Day to Fall Weekend holiday. The faculty has gone a step further and has voted to designate the second Monday in October as Indigenous People’s Day.

The vote comes after members of the Native Americans at Brown student organization presented a resolution for the name change to the Brown University Community Council in October 2015. The council passed the resolution and urged the Faculty Executive Committee to consider it.

Renaming the holiday, according to the motion presented to the faculty, “would recognize the contributions of Indigenous People/Native Americans to our community and our culture and foster a more inclusive community,” reports News from Brown.

Before voting, the faculty discussed three goals presented by the student organization:

to express the need for opportunities to increase visibility of Native Americans and recognition of Native Americans at Brown;

to celebrate the contributions of indigenous communities and cultures; and

to acknowledge a legacy of displacement and oppression of Native American peoples.

Chair of the Faculty Executive Committee Thomas Roberts, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, issued this statement after the meeting:

Over the course of the fall 2015 semester, faculty, staff, and students at Brown have engaged in a series of conversations around a proposal to change the name of our current Fall Weekend holiday to Indigenous People’s Day. Modifications of the academic calendar require a vote of the faculty. Today a majority of faculty present at the monthly faculty meeting voted to support this proposal by amending the Faculty Rules and Regulations, designating the second Monday of October as Indigenous People’s Day. In discussions prior to the vote, faculty expressed their support for the name change as an opportunity to show support for Native Americans on our campus and beyond, and to celebrate Native American culture and history.

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