It isn’t news to anyone that the campus of UC Santa Barbara is a bit lacking in cultural diversity. Currently, the school’s population is more than 50 percent white. So it’s no wonder that several minority groups on campus joined together this week to hold the annual Indigenous Resistance Week. Triggered partly by the still celebrated Columbus Day, which was on Monday, October 13, the week is a time for students of all cultures to discuss the explorer’s legacy, and what it means to the United States.
El Congreso, a student collective that’s brought attention to community struggles since 1973, is mainly responsible for the events, which took place from October 13 to 17. El Congreso’s Angelica Camacho, a UCSB student, explained, “This isn’t about Christopher Columbus as an individual, but how his arrival affected communities worldwide. All the events taking place this week bring to light the history, and how it continues to repeat itself.”
The week’s events were kicked off with a welcome rally on Monday. Speakers – students and teachers alike – discussed the significance of the much protested holiday, and how it still affects the native cultures in our country. Film screenings, guest lectures, and group discussions were held on what is and should be happening within Native American, Chicano/Latino, and minority communities overall.
One event in particular struck a chord with Camacho: the Danza Azteca, a physical celebration that unites the worlds of dance and spiritual devotion. “It’s a spiritual path,” she said. “There’s a whole history behind it.” And that history is just as much a part of Chicano/Latino culture as it is Native American culture. Camacho stressed the importance of Indigenous Resistance Week in the Chicano/Latino community, noting that even though they are not “typical” Native Americans, they are native to America nonetheless.
For Camacho and many other UCSB students, this week was meant for reflection, pride, and activism. It also provided a broader historical viewpoint than that of the conqueror.
“We think everything was handled back in the day, in the civil rights era all those years ago, but that’s not the case,” said Camacho. “So much needs to be done.”