The University of Notre Dame plans to cover up murals on its campus that depict Christopher Columbus, according to an announcement from the university’s president, Rev. John Jenkins.
Jenkins wrote in a letter to the university community that “many have come to see the murals as at best blind to the consequences of Columbus’s voyage” for indigenous people.
“In recent years I have heard from students, alumni, faculty, staff, representatives of the Native American community, and others on this complex topic,” Jenkins added. “I have decided, after consultation with the University’s Board of Fellows, on a course that will preserve the murals, but will not display them regularly in their current location.”
Jenkins also wrote that, for Native Americans, Columbus’s arrival in America “was nothing short of a catastrophe.”
“Whatever else Columbus’s arrival brought, for these peoples it led to exploitation, expropriation of land, repression of vibrant cultures, enslavement, and new diseases causing epidemics that killed millions,” he wrote.
The decision to cover the murals comes after the Native American Student Association of Notre Dame in 2017 protested against the murals, according to The Observer, a student newspaper at the school.
Marcus Winchester-Jones, the current president of the Native American Student Association, told the Associated Press that Jenkins’s decision to cover the murals was a “good step.”
“This is a good step towards acknowledging the full humanity of those native people who have come before us,” Winchester-Jones said.