Posted on October 16, 2019

UMaine Group Faces Backlash Amidst ‘Indigenous People’s Day’ Controversy

Chloe Teboe, News Center Maine, October 9, 2019


In April 2019, Gov. Janet Mills and local officials reached a milestone in that conversation, signing a bill that officially changed what used to be called ‘Columbus Day’ to ‘Indigenous People’s Day’, instead.

The bill was set to go into law 90 days after her signature, which means this year, October 14, is the first time in Maine’s history that the holiday will officially be referred to under the new name — but there are a number of Mainers out there who do not approve.

Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro is one of them. On October 1 at a city council meeting, he formally proclaimed he would like the holiday to still be called ‘Columbus Day’, at one point describing these older titles as ‘preventing our holidays from going in the trash’.

Following Isgro’s remarks, the University of Maine College Republicans took to their Facebook page on Friday, October 4, posting a series of pictures with a paragraph of text, thanking the mayor for standing up to the “radical left-wing agenda” in Augusta.

“We must not forget the brutal societies that Christopher Columbus and other explorers discovered in America,” the group wrote in its post. “These societies were corrupted by rampant ritual sacrifice and cannibalism.”


After reviewing the UMCR’s post, UMaine’s Vice President of Student Life Robert Dana sent out an email, saying that the language the group used is neither “supported by nor reflective of” the school’s “values and principles of inclusivity and equity”.

But UMCR took to its Facebook page again, writing that Vice President Dana’s email stemmed from “destructive behavior”, demanding a “formal apology for this blatant misrepresentation of (its) views”.

“The University felt that because our name was implicated in the post, of course we had to express our value structure — what we believe in, what we’re doing here at UMaine,” Vice President Dana said, {snip}.

It was a decision that resonated with members of University of Maine College Democrats.


“There’s no reason to (indigenous people) out. No reason to say they are savages,” UMCD President Liam Kent adds.


This year, Maine became one of a growing number of states, including Vermont, New Mexico, Alaska, Minnesota, Oregon, Hawaii and South Dakota, to sign into law new language used for the holiday.

On Tuesday, October 8, the Washington, D.C. council voted to temporarily re-designate Columbus Day as Indigenous People’s Day — at least for this year.