Testimony in support provided by Savitri Horrigan of Merrimack, NH
Dear Chairman Goley and the Executive Departments and Administration Committee,
Please support HB 221: Establishing Indigenous People’s Day in the State of New Hampshire. Supporting this bill is important for the following reasons:
● Columbus didn’t settle in North America. Columbus' ship went off course landing on Haiti. Columbus and his men committed genocide against indigenous peoples already living on the land through the spread of deadly diseases, forced assimilation, warfare, and massacre. His offenses were so egregious that he returned to Europe at one point in chains, where he was tried for crimes against humanity but later pardoned.
● National observance of Columbus Day has only been around since 1934. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt initiated national observance of this day at the request of the Knights of Columbus and New York City’s Italian community. Dr. Beverly Tatum suggests aligning ourselves with positive role models rather than negative role models from history in order to reduce the feeling of guilt that oftens blocks people with racial privilege from having fruitful conversations about race and equity.
● 87% of references to Native Americans in U.S. curricula are in the context of American history before 1900. This directly causes students to believe that indigenous peoples in North America are long forgotten and no longer around. By erasing their presence and impact in modern society, it becomes easier to dehumanize indigenous folks and support projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline that not only desecrated funeral grounds and raised public health concerns for the people in that area, but also causes environmental degradation that affects all of us.
● American Indians and Alaska natives represent the ethnic group with the highest rates of suicidal ideation and nonfatal behavior among youth. Indigenous youth face devastating challenges that are the direct consequence of genocide and intergenerational trauma. Indigenous youth also demonstrate great resiliency and brave activism. Changing the name of this holiday is one step that will contribute to promoting a more supportive environment.
● The Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook Abenaki People are alive and strong. They and other indigenous peoples deserve recognition, justice, and respect. Why not celebrate them? Changing the name of this holiday to Indigenous People’s Day is about honoring history and protecting our cultures. It is about memorializing real heroes, not murderers. Please support HB 221 with no additional amendments.
NH National Association of Social Workers member