I would like to start by acknowledging that the land from which I write is the traditional, unceded territory of the Wampanoag People. I acknowledge the painful history of genocide and forced removal from this territory, and I honor and respect the many diverse indigenous people connected to this land...
MIT, my employer, recently changed the name of the holiday on the 2nd Monday of October from “Columbus Day” to Indigenous People’s Day in its Institute calendar. This was an important and long overdue step in MIT’s process of gradually acknowledging how the Institute and other elite universities benefited from historic practices of slavery, displacement and genocide of Indigenous People and colonial expansion of the United States.[xi] MIT must continue to support and celebrate scholarship that centers the perspective of people groups in the U.S. and beyond that have experienced oppression, inequity, genocide, displacement and slavery. In addition to the symbolic act of changing the name of the holiday celebrated on the 2nd Monday of October, MIT must continue working to ensure that members of Indigenous Communities are present and supported members of the MIT community as students, faculty and staff. If we are invited to do so, we at MIT may have the privilege to participate in collaborative research with Indigenous leaders who are working to pursue the flourishing of their lands and people.
Danielle Wood ’05, SM ’08, PhD ’12, Assistant Professor of Media Arts and Sciences / Assistant Professor (Joint) of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Image: David Silverman Photography, 2017
Wood, Danielle. "On Indigenous People’s Day, Let’s Commit to an Anticolonial Mindset on Earth and in Space." MIT Media Lab, 12 October 2020.