Nel's New Day

October 14, 2019

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Today eleven states, 128 state and local municipalities, and the District of Columbia recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a holiday instead of Columbus Day. In 1989, the movement to change the commemoration of the day from Christopher Columbus began in South Dakota although the federal government sticks with Columbus Day. South Dakota calls its holiday “Native American Day,” and Hawaii honors “Discovers’ Day” to pay homage to Polynesian voyagers. (This map is available in interactive format here.) 

Seventy-nine percent of college students support the acknowledgement of Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of the national holiday for Columbus that was created in 1937.

There are good reasons to drop the adulation of the racist and genocidal Columbus, who never landed on the coast of what is now the United States.

On Columbus’ first voyage in 1492 to present-day Bahamas, he enslaved the Taínos, a civilization that he called curious and friendly. His exploitation of the island’s inhabitants and the theft of their land set the tone for European conquests of the Americas. With an African slave on his voyages, he laid the foundation for slavery in America.

Governor and viceroy of the Indies, the tyrant Columbus was known for being a brutal autocrat, generally hated by the people. He cut off the nose and ears of a man stealing corn before he sold him into slavery. After a woman said that Columbus was of lowly birth, his brother Bartolomé cut out her tongue, stripped her naked, and paraded her around the colony on a mule. The two men were finally ordered back to Spain because of being power mad.

Columbus was known for his sexual abuse of women, his focus on finding gold, and his total disregard for humanity. He saw people of color as obstacles and treated them with extreme cruelty. Only a few hundred Tainos remained of the 250,000 on the Bahamas when Columbus landed 60 years earlier because he cut off their hands, gave them diseases, and destroyed their way of life.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) announced a proclamation to celebrate Columbus Day rather than Indigenous Peoples Day.

“Today, we commemorate this great explorer, whose courage, skill, and drive for discovery are at the core of the American spirit. The bold legacy of Columbus and his crew spun a thread that weaves through the extensive history of Americans who have pushed the boundaries of exploration.”

The purpose of Columbus Day was to overcome the severe discrimination and violence against Italians who immigrated to the United States in the nineteenth century. In designating the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the Bahamas, President Benjamin Harrison described the man from Genoa as a “pioneer of progress and enlightenment.”

Those who celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day honor the millions of natives who lived in the Western Hemisphere before Columbus’ reign of terror. As a nation, we deserve better than to use the name of a vicious, violent, power-hungry, racist man as a symbol of the United States.

October 8, 2018

Celebrating Columbus Day–Or Not

Filed under: Discrimination — trp2011 @ 7:28 PM
Tags: , ,

Buzzfeed has a report on the changes across the nation from celebrating Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. As much of the U.S. celebrates Columbus Day on Monday, nine new cities will join a growing movement that celebrates Native Americans on Indigenous Peoples Day by Michelle Broder Van Dyke.

Nine new cities decided this year to abolish Columbus Day and celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day on Monday, including Albuquerque, New Mexico; Portland, Oregon; St. Paul, Minnesota; Bexar County, Texas; Traverse City, Michigan; and Olympia, Washington.

Last year, the holiday was celebrated for the first time in Minneapolis and Seattle, encouraging Native American leaders across the country to push for a new holiday on the second Monday of October that recognizes indigenous people, the Associated Press reported.

The push follows a decades-long campaign that was first realized in 1990, when South Dakota renamed Columbus Day to Native American Day. Two years later, Berkeley, California also created Indigenous Peoples Day.

Two other California cities, Santa Cruz and Sebastopol, as well as Dane County, Wisconsin now also celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day, according to Indian Country Today. Alaska and Oregon do not celebrate the day at all, while Hawaii calls it Discoverers’ Day, honoring the Polynesian explorers who first arrived at the archipelago.

The federal holiday for Christopher Columbus was established in 1934. Activists say it celebrates a painful history of colonialism and genocide that followed the explorer’s 1492 arrival, while ignoring the significant contributions of indigenous people.

Supporters of the holiday say it commemorates an important explorer and the relationship between Europe and America. Many Italian-Americans also mention Columbus’ Italian roots and say the holiday is a celebration of their heritage.

John Viola, president of the Washington, D.C.-based National Italian American Foundation, said to Reuters that changing Columbus Day dishonors 25 million Italian-Americans and their ancestors.

“By default, we’re like the collateral damage of this trend,” Viola said.

For over a decade, San Francisco and several other cities have called the holiday Italian Heritage Day instead.

Native Americans make up about 2% of the U.S. population, making them the nation’s smallest demographic.

“For the Native community here, Indigenous Peoples Day means a lot. We actually have something,” said Nick Estes, who is coordinating a celebration Monday following the Albuquerque City Council’s adoption of the holiday. “We understand it’s just a proclamation, but at the same time, we also understand this is the beginning of something greater.”

Parades and festivals honoring Columbus Day have been met by protests over the years, with many in Denver becoming confrontational. The city stopped the protest for almost a decade, after a 1992 parade became particularly tense.

Native American groups have now turned to City Hall, hoping to make changes in the holiday there. Oklahoma City is set to vote on a similar proposal later this month.

Still, protests are planned near places honoring the explorer, such as in midtown Manhattan, where the world’s largest Columbus parade is held, according to Reuters.

It’s difficult to think of a more perverse hero than Christopher Columbus, the Italian who led Europe’s first landing party in the Americas.

From rape, to pillage, to flat-out murder, Columbus and his men were the first Europeans to commit horrendous atrocities against America’s indigenous people.

Among the reasons for changing the name are these reports about Christopher Columbus’ actions:

Wrote “we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.” In his journal, he added, “As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts.”

Ordered all natives 14 years and older to collect an identified amount of gold every three months and cut off their hands if they failed. The order was in an area with little gold, and fleeing natives were hunted down and killed.
Knifed Indians by twenties and cut “slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades, according to priest Bartoleme de las Casas about Columbus’ Spaniards. He reported that “our work was to exasperate, ravage, kill, mangle and destroy.”
Hung or burned captive Indians to the the point that Arawaks committed mass suicides, feeding cassava poison to their infants. Two years after Columbus’ arrival, half of the 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead, either through murder, mutilation or suicide. By 1550, 500 Indians were still alive, and by 1650, the Arawaks were wiped out from the island.
Kidnapped a Carib woman and gave her to a crew member to rape.
And Christopher Columbus never set foot on United States land. Happy Columbus Day!

October 12, 2015

Time for Native American Day

Today is Columbus Day. The federal holiday has caused millions and millions of children to be taught myths as truth because President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the Knights of Columbus a gift of a federal holiday honoring a Catholic man. Evidence shows that Leif Eriksson led a band of Vikings to North American five centuries before 1492 and established a settlement before the indigenous peoples drove them off. It is also thought that Irish monks, the Chinese, Africans, and others “discovered” the continent before Columbus—a place already discovered by the people who had moved to the New World across the Bering Land Bridge 10,000 to 15,000 years earlier. Even when Columbus died, 16 years after he landed on the island, he thought he had found a path to Asia, his original purpose. But still, the United States celebrates Christopher Columbus.

The first Columbus Day celebration in the United States was in New York in 1792 to honor Oct. 12, 1492, the day that Columbus and his ships first made landfall on an island in the Caribbean Sea. It was to honor Italian-Americans because people believed Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy, instead of Spain’s Catalonia region. One-hundred years later, President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation asking people to celebrate the day with patriotic festivities to mark the 400th anniversary of the voyage. In 1971, the national holiday established in 1937 was moved to the second Monday in October as the U.S. decided three-day weekends are important.

About the Taino people who Columbus encountered, he wrote, “With 50 men they could all be subjected and made to do all that one might wish. [They were] fit to be ordered about, to sow, and do everything else that may be needed.” A former slave trader, Columbus captured “seven head of women, young ones and adults, and three small children” to take back to Spain.

Columbus’ journals of his voyages document graphic acts of rape and brutality. He and his men chopped off the hands of Taino slaves who failed to get a daily quota of gold, and female slaves were forced to leave their babies on the road sides. Spanish conquistadors bet who could chop a Taino body in half with just one blow. In 1499, Columbus was arrested, chained up, and brought back to Spain.

History has described Columbus as “self-centered, ruthless, avaricious, and racist,” and he left a legacy of death, pillage, and rape of the land filled with colonialism, enslavement, discrimination, and land grabs. Thanks to people who followed Columbus, one-third of Native Americans died of disease—chicken pox, measles, cholera, malaria, typhoid, bubonic plague, etc.

People who think that the indigenous people in the United States no longer suffer as they have in the past need to consider what the government is doing to them in the 21st century. Native Americans didn’t get the right to vote in 1924 because the Fourteenth Amendment excluded Indians. Yet states found ways to keep Indians from voting for most of the 20th century through methods such as literacy tests. Despite lawsuits, some states refuse to recognize tribal IDs for voting and will not set up satellite polling locations on reservations, forcing Indians to drive as far as 163 miles or even to fly to a polling place. No access to early voting makes the process even more difficult.

White men are still allowed to abuse Indian youth. Last year, 57 Lakota students between 8 and 13 were rewarded for academic achievements by attending a hockey match in Rapid City (SD). At the game, a group of men in an executive suite poured beer over their heads and shouted, “Go back to the Rez!” Only one perpetrator faced criminal charges, and he was acquitted when a judge declared that the beer was just sprayed in excitement over a goal. The children are afraid to leave the reservation now.

Until last April, South Dakota’s Department of Social Services routinely placed Native children in white foster homes while denying Indian parents and guardians any due process rights in the hearing process. Parents were not allowed to examine evidence or cross-examine witnesses in hearings that sometimes lasted less than one minute, on average less than five minutes. One judge, Jeff Davis, ruled against Indian parents every time. Judges also told parents that their jurisdictions could ignore the law. An average of 740 Indian children was taken from their homes each year, some of them sexually abused in their foster homes.

Years ago, Indian children were taken from reservations and sent to “schools” where they were forced away from their culture. Putting children into white foster homes serves and same purpose, and white entitlement in the United States supports this “assimilation.” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), currently a GOP presidential candidate, said that if Native Americans were “assimilated,” that it would take only a decade for them to “probably be doing as well as the rest of us.” That’s his excuse for taking all the reservation lands and forget the way that white people refused to “assimilate” to the native culture of the country where they committed genocide.

Governments are still taking land away from Native Americans. For example, a section in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act transferred the San Carlos Apache tribe’s sacred area of Oak Flat in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest to mining company Resolution Copper. The land had been protected since 1955 when President Eisenhower declared it closed to mining because of its cultural and natural value, and President Nixon’s administration renewed the decree in 1971. Mining will destroy the area, but Arizona GOP Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake supported the land grab after they received contributions from Rio Tinto, mining company’s parent corporation. Flake was also a paid lobbyist for Rio Tinto Rössing Uranium in Namibia before being elected to Congress.

When Phil Stago of the White Mountain Apache Tribe protested the removal of his tribe’s land, Arizona’s 4th District Rep. Paul Gosar told him, “You’re still wards of the federal government.” Gosar was repeating the position that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall took in the 1830s. Although Congress controls Indian affairs, tribes are known as sovereign nations. The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ website describes the federal government as trustee of Indian property, not the guardian of all American Indians and Alaska Natives.

McCain has a history of taking Indian land. In 1974, Senator John McCain wrote the 1974 Relocation Act which moved over 14,000 Navajo and 100 Hopi from their homelands to the site of a uranium mining accident in Chambers (AZ) where they developed lung cancer and their babies were born with birth defects. The excuse was to settle a land dispute between the two tribes, but the real purpose was to exploit mineral resources by creating two of the biggest coal strip mines in the nation. Ceasing operations in 2005, the mine left a 273-mile abandoned coal-slurry pipeline and 325 million tons of climate pollution in the atmosphere.

The state of Michigan wants to give 13,000 acres (about 20 square miles) of Native American treaty land to a Canadian company to develop a limestone mine. The state will get $4.53 million. It’s not a done deal yet, but Native Americans must fight for their land.

Like other minorities, Native Americans are victimized by the U.S. justice system with an incarceration rate 38 percent higher than the national average and four times the rate of white men. Native Americans are more likely to be killed by police than any other racial group and fall victim to violent crime at more than double all other citizens. While Native American women are incarcerated at six times the rate of white women, 88 percent of violent crime committed against Native American women is by non-Native perpetrators. Native American youths are 30 percent more likely than whites to be referred to juvenile court than have charges dropped.

A movement to honor Native Americans on October 12 has been growing in the past decades. Both Hawaii and the Bahamas call October 12, “Discovery Day,” and South Dakota began to use the term Native American Day in 1989. In 1992, Berkeley (CA) changed the name to Indigenous Peoples Day. Nine cities—including Albuquerque, Portland (OR), and Olympia (WA)—have followed suit. It’s not much, but it’s a start to recognize white entitlement, the belief that nothing has value or exists unless a white man is in charge. That’s a belief that may become more predominant in states such as South Dakota, which not longer requires Native American history to be taught in the public schools. Schools that do teach Indian history treat the subject as if Native Americans are gone—that they no longer exist. But that’s what many white people want.

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