…columbus day in the us? and a holiday, still?…

…one of those incongruities of life; or a ‘western’ thing…

Unperturbed about the ridiculousness of the thing the US continues with the celebration of Christopher Columbus – even if, as other holidays, it is a day to go shopping.

Elsewhere, such as in those countries directly affected by the Enterprise (slavery, slaughter and plunder) of the Lord of the Ocean Seas, the attitude is markedly different. Many to most countries have been moving away, far away, from even the racist implications of that ‘el Día de la Raza’. Among the more favoured has been el Día de la Resistencia Indígena, ‘Day of Indigenous Resistance‘. TeleSur gives a brief summation of the event commemorated. Read the rest of this entry »


…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, Read the rest of this entry »

…redskins, profits for some; penury for the others…

…and we do know who the ‘others’ are…

Ralph Nader burnishes his credentials further as social activist, with his article on the use of a word considered perjorative by American Indians. In his article over at common dreams, ‘Redskins’: More Than Just a Name, he gives the state of play on the topic, and dates it from his activism days as student at Harvard Law School.

In the mid-1950s I visited several tribal areas in the west, including the Blackfeet and Crow Reservations. The poverty, despair and cultural devastation were everywhere. In 1956, as a Harvard Law Student, I researched and wrote a long article titled “American Indians: People Without a Future” in the Harvard Law Record. So infrequent were such reports that the Indian Health Service ordered 10,000 reprints.


…Our culture today pays far more attention to ethnic, racial and gender slurs (many of them fortunately phased out of most public conversations) than to the brutal conditions of penury, discriminating violence, addiction and repression that represent contemporary reality.

 A very sobering article from a man of proven substance and social conscience, which is complemented well with another by Rob Hotakainen of McClatchy news, Tribes want Congress to ban Redskins’ trademark. The article draws on history to demonstrate the fate of these First Nations, with a copy of even the proclamation of extermination against these people.

WASHINGTON — When Indians were declared the enemy of King George II in 1755, colonists got an offer of 50 pounds for the scalps of Indian males over the age of 12 as a way to exterminate them.

By 1863, they were more valuable, with a Minnesota newspaper noting that the state reward for a dead Indian had risen to $200. The money would pay “for every redskin sent to Purgatory.”

[Bold added for emphasis]

Again, blogs and news media less beholden to the implicit establishment agenda continue to strip away the myths still prevalent in the US. In this case we have the benevolent Puritans and Pilgrims. These noble folk were depicted as the ones who would gently guide the ‘naked,ignorant savages’ away from their ‘godlessness’ (and their lands) to the loving arms of Christianity (and extermination or endemic poverty and destitution). Plymouth Rock and all that fiction.

These two articles should inspire contemplation with the advent of the puzzling tradition of ‘pardoning the turkey’, a ritual that is visited annually upon a patient populace of the US and the bemused populations of the world. That dreaded day of ‘looking in the mirror’ is fast approaching.


…columbus, 1492. 2013, epiphany of the long obvious…

In the US, among the unaffected, Columbus Day celebrated with marches and sales. In the rest of the hemisphere the day is commemorated as one of genocide, slavery, exploitation and theft of livelihoods, lands and resources; and one for renewal of determination to recover, protect and strengthen rights. Quite a contrast. Yet the times are achangin’.

Increasingly voices of dissent have been receiving sympathetic ears, and active and vocal support against the travesty. One voice eschews niceties to describe the much celebrated US national day. Over at truth-out Paul Bucheit argues that Columbus Day Is the Official Endorsement of White European and US Conquest of Indigenous Peoples  His opening is unsparing with the conveniently forgotten,

Columbus Day is a good day to consider American exceptionalism, in the broad sense of superiority. Columbus embraced the doctrine from the start, writing about the Arawak Indians in Haiti: “Great multitudes of men came to the shore, all young and of fine shapes and very handsome…I could conquer the whole of them with fifty men and govern them as I pleased.”

Conquer them he did, forcing them to find gold for the Spanish explorers, cutting off their hands if they failed.

The myth of the benevolent Columbus is contrasted with another discredited, not yet discarded, myth.

In the realm of US sports, the long obvious to most on the planet is being discovered. This time with vehement call for action, but not to disrupt the flow of profits. In Washington, DC, the name of the US-football team, from  its inception, has been Washington Redskins. And from the players, very highly remunerated, there has never been any public opposition to the name. It would take the opposition of the much abused American Indians and their rapidly increasing legions of supporters to bring the issue to a head.

Over at truth-out a posting from The Thom Hartmann program is similarly scathing toward the uncontrite racism with Columbus Raped the Redskins … Time to Change the Name

The fact is Native Americans have never once referred to themselves as “Redskins.”

That derogatory and racist term dates back to the early years of the discovery of the Americas.

In 1492, Columbus was on a manic hunt for gold when he set sail, and eventually landed on an island known as Hispaniola, which today is the home of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

While Columbus didn’t find much gold on Hispaniola, he did find something as good as it: people.

And, it was these indigenous people or “redskins” that Columbus thought would make great slaves.

And after some decades, an exceptional name may well have to undergo an exceptional change, quite likely with neither apology nor show of contrition. After all, the team’s owner has suffered long enough. And the game must go on.

The year, 2013, increasingly exceptional.