…good bye, columbus; hello, indigenous survivors…

…the curious contradiction of celebrating the arrival of someone who never did arrive in North America?…

The annual ritual. The US has set aside 12 October to honour Christopher Columbus, the national holiday on the 2nd Monday. However, those heretofore invisible indigenous peoples of the Americas have simply decided to be no longer so, to be no longer stick figures of history. And solid support for their decision continues from most quarters.

The blog, common dreams, posts two articles of interest. The first by Deidre Fulton, In Rejecting Columbus, Cities Forge Path Toward System Alternative, looks at how some cities in the US address the challenge.

As Minneapolis and Seattle mark their cities’ first-ever Indigenous Peoples’ Day, activists are calling for a nationwide revocation of Columbus Day in favor of a holiday that honors the more complicated past of this land’s original inhabitants.

One historian observes,

It’s well past time for the U.S. to realize that “Columbus Day is a metaphor and painful symbol of that traumatic past,” historian and writer Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz argued in an open letter to President Barack Obama published last week

Another post there by William Loren Katz also looks at the historical context to question continuance of the celebration, Christopher Columbus Driven by Ill Winds. Couple excerpts. The first gets to the point – hospitality rewarded,

Oppression built slowly. Columbus’s initial voyage seized a few dozen Native men and women, some as slaves, others to present at the Royal Court. Then his goal was largely exploratory. After his second voyage he wrote to his King, “From here, in the name of the Blessed Trinity, we can send all the slaves that can be sold.” Spain’s rulers eagerly supplied him with 17 ships, a thousand soldiers, priests who would conduct mass conversions, and orders for a brutal colonization. He began an island to island search for gold and slaves that decimated families, villages and cities.

[bold added for emphasis]

Many who know the history, and are of indigenous origin, remain bemused, or stronger, nonplussed at the failure to redress the obvious.

And then comes the recommendation,

A Native Americans Day can educate young and old about Indians who united with Africans to fight against foreign tyranny before, during and after 1776. It will remind everyone that Native Americans today still seek lands and monies promised in ancient treaties with United States. And it will inform us anew that Americans of color whose ancestors fought and died for the principle of freedom still do not enjoy all their inalienable rights.

The Independent has a look at this unique day, Columbus Day celebrations: Amid the festivities, discomfort about America’s forefather grows. It considers the views of the Italian-Americans. We get this adamant point of view,

Italian-Americans who celebrate the event take offense at the challenge to the naming of the day and their Italian hero. One would think that Amerigo Vespucci might have been Italian, and without the obvious baggage?

Italian-Americans who celebrate the annual event take offense at the challenge to the naming of the day and to the treatment of their Italian hero. One would think that Amerigo Vespucci might have been a more sutiable, less controversial Italian, and without the obvious baggage? Also, in more recent US history there has been the treatment meted out to Italian immigrants by their Ango-Saxon citizens, a treatment similarly experienced by Irish immigrants. Curious business.

And to add comic irony to the Columbus Day thing, we have the owner of a US NFL ‘football’ team with the name, ‘Redskins’, who seeks to persuade the US that the racist name is not racist. And to do so he enlists the support of a Navajo Indian chief on the very Day. But we let The Guardian have a go at it, with its, Daniel Snyder joined by Navajo Nation president at Washington game. Couple excerpts,

Throughout the 20-30 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Snyder was joined in his box by the president of the Navajo Nation, Ben Shelly, presumably to demonstrate Native American support for Washington’s chosen mascot.

And it seems that the chief may have been more induced by personal motives than by the stated position of his tribe,

Shelly’s apparent support for the Redskins moniker runs counter to his own tribal council, which voted by a margin of 9-2 to oppose the name. He also angered tribal leaders when he partnered with Synder’s Original Americans Foundation (OAF) to host a golf tournament, which led to the sponsors, the National Indian Gaming Association and the Notah Begay III Foundation, pulling out.

[bold added for emphasis]

Somehow shining through is some measure of desperation, a ploy that failed?

…final year to roll that boulder up the hill?…