RIT Celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day through Conversation and Cultural Dance | October 2020
Newsletter October 2020
RIT Celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day through Conversation and Cultural Dance
Do monuments and statues represent history accurately? If you remove them, is that an erasure of history?
Nicole Scott describes it as a conversation with friends. The director of RIT’s Native American Future Stewards Program brought people together to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day and Italian Heritage Month on Monday October 12. The zoom event, entitled “Preserving History: A Panel Discussion on Monuments & Statues” featured RIT’s Mindy Magyar (Mi'kmaq), associate professor, College of Art and Design, Elisabetta D'Amanda (Italian), principal lecturer of Italian, College of Liberal Arts, and Jonathan Ntheketha (Wakamba, African-American), associate director, Student Success and Development, MCAS. Scott said the idea was born out of recent events across the country.
“During the Black Lives Matter protests, activist were calling for statues and monuments that honor white supremacy to come down, and among those were statues that honored Christopher Columbus. From this came conversations of how do we recognize history, remember history, but honor it appropriately.”
These are the kinds of conversations these four friends have had before. Scott and D’Amanda have teamed up in the past to jointly celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day and Columbus Day.
Scott said, “Elisabetta and I have been partnering for Indigenous Peoples Day for the last three or four years. I honestly can’t remember. Our goal is to always celebrate both heritages and cultures without diminishing the other. “
Scott says the message is this: we are not separate communities, we must coexist on this planet together.
“There is a phrase that is chanted at Black Lives Matter rallies, ‘We must love and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.’ Each of us, each of our ancestors have felt oppressed by society at one point and some of us still do. It is that love and support that will give everyone those unalienable Rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Another highlight of Indigenous Peoples Day was the return to RIT of the Allegany River Dancers. They performed outside in the Global Village Plaza. They shared traditional Haudenosaunee songs and dances with distinct drum beats and cadences. One 7 year old performed an energetic Hoop Dance, using hoops to create objects in nature like animals and birds. The group also shared the Round Dance and the Raccoon Dance. All of them tell a story.
The Allegany River Dancers have performed for more than two decades and are members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, also known as the Six Nations.