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Monday, October 8, 2007

Columbus Day As Seen Through The Possibilty Of Learning

Today is not Columbus Day, Friday October 12th is Columbus Day, yet in a manipulation to make a three day weekend out of yet another holiday, in this case, one celebrating the White Man's "discovery of America", in 1971 Congress passed the act specifying the second Monday in October as "Columbus Day" The city of Denver was the first to celebrate this "holiday" exactly 100 years ago in 1907 and it is there, that yesterday, 83 were arrested who were protesting Denver's Columbus Day Parade (read here) One organizer of the parade, George Vendegnia stated, "With this protest, it's just motivating people more to be back next year and exercise their right to participate in an American holiday,"

What does Vendegnia mean by this statement? That the protest led by Transform Columbus Day, whose mission is below should bring out more people to celebrate the conquest of America by the White Man? What does this say of the celebration of Columbus Day in this fashion about America? (Watch Russel Means of Transform Columbus Day speak at yesterday's protest here)
Why Transform Columbus Day?

The Transform Columbus Day Alliance actively rejects the celebration of Christopher Columbus and his legacy of domination, oppression, and colonialism. We also reject historical misconceptions regarding Columbus and his "discovery" of the Americas.

By saying NO to Columbus and his day we are saying YES to a new future of mutual respect, collaboration, and equality,

a future that respects...

=the rights of indigenous peoples
=the natural environment
=democratic & economic justice
=gender equity over global patriarchy
=free and equal speech over hate speech
Rather than continuing to celebrate Columbus Day in this conquistadorial manner, the writer below has a much more thoughtful and spiritual analysis of this day which is one nation's supposed victory, and another's day of tragedy:

Columbus Day should serve as a day of reflection

Think about all the origins and cultures of America, not just one

Today is Columbus Day, the day in October when school children across the United States commemorate the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World with construction paper cut-outs of the NiƱa, Pinta and Santa Maria. Many children will learn of the Americas in the year of 1492 as a vast stretch of pristine wilderness, with untouched jungles and grasslands, millions of animals, and small, isolated groups of American Indians living in peaceful harmony with the land. School children will learn of the Europeans' arrival as the time when the first Americans were conquered, given a history, and Europe dominated the world. At least that is what Charles C. Mann, author of the book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus says he learned in school, and sees his son learning today. Inspired to write a book presenting the accumulating archaeological evidence discounting this notion of the “Noble Savage” – a traditionally held image that the American Indians living in the New World before the arrival of Columbus were perfect stewards of the land on which they subsisted – Mann asserts the people who lived in North, Central and South America highly impacted and shaped their environment (as all human populations do) had complex social and political structures, and had advanced cities that rivaled the sizes of urban centers in Europe at the same time.

As history shapes our viewpoints of the world, it is easy for modern people to see the arrival of Columbus and the subsequent “takeover” of European culture in the Americas as a natural and inevitable event of a superior and more advanced culture supplanting another. What must be emphasized, however, is that the indigenous peoples of the Americas – who knew their lands and resources more intimately than any European at the time – faced a tremendous foe before the conquistadors even penetrated much of the interior of the Americas. Smallpox, measles and other communicable diseases brought over by the explorers proved to be more of an enemy to indigenous populations than any bayonet, bullet or sword. According to an article in the American Journal of Medical Sciences, “Smallpox ultimately killed more Native Americans in the early centuries than any other disease or conflict. It was not unusual for half a tribe to be wiped out; on some occasions, the entire tribe was lost.” It is unlikely the small numbers of European explorers, of which there are diaries documenting the intense dislike and difficult survival conditions in the New World, conquered the great civilizations of the Aztec and the Inca, as well as other indigenous communities, with guns alone. Crowd diseases brought from Europe on the ships sailing across the Atlantic greatly affected the eventual outcome of the conquering of the New World in favor of the Europeans.

Columbus Day is a holiday heavily loaded with emotions. Some see it as a day recognizing a man who helped decimate large numbers of indigenous Americans. Others see it as a day celebrating the founding of new countries and new cultures. For school children, it is a holiday that helps them survive the days before Halloween. Rather than making Columbus Day obsolete and a day we should delete from the calendar, it should be an exercise in thinking, recognizing and giving credit to the people that lived here – and whose descendents continue to live and practice traditional life ways – before Europeans arrived. Columbus Day should be a day where people from all different backgrounds and viewpoints come together to discuss one of the greatest cultural meetings of our 100,000-year human history.



I don't know if I would refer to the conquest of the what is now the United States as "one of the greatest cultural meetings of our 100,000-year human history", because that to me would imply that there was a sharing taking place which benefited both parties. What happened to the Native Americans after Columbus "sailed the ocean blue" was hardly a benefit to the indigenous people living here. Yet here we stand today more than 500 years later still unable to take the horrific lessons which should have been learned, and repeating them elsewhere with our military onslaughts of other countries, the setting up of military bases worldwide and our continuing occupation of Iraq.

Columbus Day is NOT celebrated in every state, and in fact the State of North Dakota, home of Crazy Horse and the Lakota tribe, today is celebrated as Native American Day with a full program of celebrations at the Crazy Horse Memorial

As stated prior, one man's "victory" always comes at a loss to another. I agree with the Transform Columbus Day Movement, this day MUST be transformed, for to continue with this White Man's conquering attitude, no peace will be found in this world, not only for our Native Americans here whom we have harmed irrepairably, but for those the White Man has harmed worldwide.

Youtube:"WORDS OF FIRE,DEEDS OF BLOOD" (best watched on smaller screen),Inspired by Robbie Robertson's music for Native Americans CD,one of my all time fave cds. Additional guitar by Myztico...Dedicated to Leonard Peltier In Loving Memory of all native american children,women and men who were unjustly slaughtered and lied to by the american governmen and continue to be oppressed to this very day! May their spirit and culture never fade away. (Featuring a segment by Rita Coolidge and her peoples Cherokee Morning song).

The words spoken, "
Perhaps you think the Creator sent you here to dispose of us as you see fit. If I thought you were sent by the Creator, I might be induced to think you had a right to dispose of further, were spoken by Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Tribe)

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