About 60 people attended a discussion about Indigenous People's Day Monday afternoon at Keene State College. Panelists focused on education, land and local history of Native Americans.
Jeniffer Afualo-Robinson is a senior at Keene State. As part of an independent study, she created a timeline of the lives of the Western Abenaki people who lived in the area before colonization.
She says the project made this history much more visible to her.
"It has changed my view of the population of Keene, the land itself,” she said. “And the perception that it's hidden, or it's not widely known or shared, but it's there."
At the event, Keene's mayor proclaimed the city was celebrating Indigenous People's Day this year. Keene State College made a similar proclamation.
About an hour in to the discussion, panelist Donna Moody wanted to make a point. Moody, an adjunct professor at Franklin Pierce University, asked Keene state students to stand up.
“If you do not know who Christopher Columbus is sit down."
All 20 students remained standing.
"If you do not know the name of the first people Columbus encountered sit down,” Moody said.
Only two students were left standing. One student answered Columbus first encountered the Tainos.
“Do you think we have a problem in education?” Moody said.
A bill to make the Indigenous People's Day a statewide holiday in place of Columbus Day failed in the Legislature earlier this year