On this October 11, 2021, traditionally called “Columbus Day” but also dedicated Indigenous Peoples Day by President Biden, Agnes Scott College’s Center for Global Learning stands in solidarity with native peoples across the globe to urge meaningful actions in support of indigenous communities everywhere.

Calling attention to the myriad of challenges that indigenous peoples face has become more important than ever in the context of climate heating. As tribal attorney and indigeneous leader Tara Houska recently mentioned at Agnes Scott College’s Women’s Global Leadership conference, Building a Better World: Women and Climate Justice, defending the rights of native communities is an urgent act of survival. Houska poignantly summarized what’s at stake:

Indigenous peoples around the globe hold 80% of all earth’s biodiversity, despite being just 5% of all human beings. We are fighting for what remains, everywhere. The earth is a relative, not a resource. My ancestors fought back, or I would not exist. I owe the next generation the same. We all do.


For Agnes Scott College’s students, acknowledging the important and rich contributions of indigenous peoples goes beyond the commemoration of a particular day. A critical look at exploitative global perspectives is part of the college’s curriculum. Our SUMMIT global learning program is structured around a set of common thematic clusters that invoke the historical and contemporary injustices caused by globalization. One of these thematic clusters, “imperialism/colonialism/diaspora,” acknowledges the injustices that have been and still are being committed by global exploration and expansion. Our students trace these topics across all their first-year Global Journeys courses, paying special attention to the experiences of native peoples in the following set of courses: Decolonizing Conservation (Alaska); Women and Leadership (Gullah Geechee, GA Sea Islands); Community and Music (Gullah Geechee, GA Sea Islands); Art and Culture (Navajo Nation).

By learning with and from these communities, Agnes Scott students apply the “reflect, analyze, act” motto of their leadership curriculum in the spirit of Tara Houska’s appeal for action:

We are choosing our memories—whether we took action, whether we stood by, whether we told ourselves it was just a job, whether we held onto comforts we knew came with extreme costs.

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