Monday Monologues to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day


Kennedy DeRaedt/Iowa State Daily

As a part of the “Monday Monologues” series, “Haunting Halloween Readings” was performed in front of the Grant Wood’s mural in Parks Library on Oct. 29. This series is curated by Iowa State faculty.

Susannah Crichton

The Monday Monologues series will coincide with Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Monday.

Rita Mookerjee, lecturer of sociology, will be reading “Becoming the Bronze Idol” and other poems concerning colonialism and the current U.S. political climate on minority cultures from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. in the Grant Wood Foyer in Parks Library.

Some places in the United States still recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day as Columbus Day, or celebrate both holidays together, but the Columbus title has been increasingly challenged due to the nature of what the day commemorates.

“I think the rhetoric that we still see a lot as Columbus Day [is] sort of elevating colonial powers, right, and colonial entities, and I think it’s really important, especially at a location like Iowa State, to reframe that conversation and think about what we’ve lost and what we need to honor, you know, taking time to reflect on some of that history that’s been erased,” Mookerjee said.

Mookerjee will also discuss issues surrounding the tokenization of minority cultures and the difficulties of promoting minority voices today.

“I think with tokenizing in particular, sometimes we see […] a good-faith attempt to try to reflect the multiplicity of American life and the American experience, but some of those can have the opposite effect of just cherry-picking certain stories and elevating certain voices over others, and I definitely think that’s the case with a lot of political moves, a lot of moves on social media, you know, we’re not seeing real change being affected,” Mookerjee said. “So, definitely when I teach and when I talk to my students about theory and important texts in history, I try to focus on writers whose influence […] they haven’t heard a thousand times before. That way we’re not tokenizing, we’re not cherry-picking, but we’re actually just working toward a more intersectional understanding of culture.”

This monologue is planned to encourage attendees to view Indigenous Peoples’ Day from a critical perspective, considering the history that has become muddled through Western lenses while commemorating the people that were here long before the era of colonization.

“I chose this day [not because] I am an indigenous person; I think that it’s really important to pivot back to that history and to honor that time, especially since Iowa State is a land grant institution […] I think it’s a gesture that shows respect and shows that we can reframe the conversation […] and give some homage back to the past,” Mookerjee said.