Friday, October 13, 2006

Cday- 2 articles.

The Historical Debt to Native People Has Still
Not Been Paid
The Myth Keepers of Columbus

In 1993, 500 years after European invaders of the Americas had brought the first Native Americans to Europe in chains, my plane landed in Barcelona, Spain, I had been invited to the International Cultural Symposium to speak on behalf of Leonard Peltier . The day after my arrival, I took a walk down their famous Rambler to the Placa del Portal de la Pau where I ran head long into a monument of Christopher Columbus. Build for the World Exhibition in 1888, the iron column is an impressive 197 feet tall and weighs 205 tons. On top the column stands a 26 foot statue of Columbus with head sculptured high, positioned to face out over its outstretched arm, with finger pointing over the Mediterranean sea and out to the distant horizon toward the Americas. As I moved around its base I discovered a series of relief’s depicting the “new lands.” What I saw was not the innocence that had been carved, but instead the first stages of colonization, the rape and plunder of the land and people of the Americas.
The popular fallacy is that Christopher Columbus was born in 1451 in Genoa, Italy. At age 14 he became a sailor, shipwrecked off of Portugal in 1470, he remained until his idea to sail west to India, known then as “Hindustan,” was financed by Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain in 1492.[Prior to his voyages west, he traded African slaves for the Portugese] He reached the Bahamas on October 12th, visited Cuba and Hispaniola (Haiti), where he left a small colony before returning to Spain on March 15th, 1493 bringing with him six captive Taino people, taken from the Caribbean islands, who were presented to Ferdinand and Isabella in the royal court of Barcelona as proof of his travel. A painting that today hangs in (government building) show the Taino people at the feet of the king and queen in servile postures of slaves. The six Tainos never saw home again, their spirits still linger in the streets of Barcelona.
In his delirium Columbus thought he landed in Paradise. He wrote in his journal that Taínos had beautiful, tall, slender olive bodies.
They wore short haircuts with a long hank at the back of the head.
They were clean-shaven and hairless. According to Columbus the Taíno tongue was “gentle, the sweetest in the world, always with a laugh.”
Friendly relations did not last long, many Tainos were beaten and murdered. The Spanish brought diseases with them that the Tainos lacked immunity to. The weapons that the Spanish were far superior to the Tainos. An estimated fifty thousand Tainos perished within two years of Columbus landing. The Spanish jammed more then five hundred Taino prisoners into a boat for Spain. They became homeless in their own land. They were devastated by abuse, starvation, and disease. Life was never the same for Indians of the Americas after 1492. Puerto Rico, an Island once occupied by Tainos were almost wiped out within two decades.
With the arrival of Columbus begin the onslaught of genocide in the Americas that Europeans only whisper about. The legacy of Columbus has kept Native Americans at the very bottom of the socio-economic ladder.
Population surveys of the Americas estimates that at the time Columbus stumbled onto the Americas 100 million people inhabited it, a count far greater then that of all Europe in those times. More then 10 million resided in the United States, today less then a million remain in the United States. Many tribes have long become decimated and extinct.
The myth that continues to be propagated is that Native Americans were savages and the civilization brought by Europeans saved them. Reality is that the foods, medicines and political structures of Native Nations in the Americas not only saved Europeans from constant famine in Europe but also taught them much about freedom and democracy, later adopted by the forefathers of Euro Americans. The model of Iroquois Confederacy (Haudenosaunee, also known as the League of Peace and Power) enabled the United States to form in part its constitution which, thanks to President Bush’s Patriot Act, is well on the road to become myth. Today, the myth of democracy, has become a perverted tool to dominate, subjugate and colonize other countries around the world such as Iraq and Palestine.
The United States held their first celebration of the “discovery of America” in New York, on October 12, 1792. At that time the only statue of Columbus in existence was in New York.
In 1876, Italian
Americans of Philadelphia erected a statue of Columbus in Fairmount Park. In 1905 Italian Americans in Denver, Colorado were the first to observe Columbus Day. It was not until September 1934 that President Franklin D. Roosevelt made it national holiday. Finally, Columbus Day became a federal legal holiday in 1971 after lobbying from the National Columbus Day Committee. Columbus Day or “El Dia de la Raza” has brought a wave of dissent across the United States and Canada by many Native Americans who feel that it perpetuates a myth that breeds bias and racism toward them.
Since 1970 Native Americans have gathered to commemorate a National Day of Mourning on Thanksgiving in remembrance of the genocide of millions of Native Peoples, theft of Native lands and the relentless assault on Native cultures since Columbus open the flood gates to European invasions of the Americas. It is curious that Columbus Day is, except for religious holidays, the only historical event which all Pan-American countries celebrate.
Since 1989 the Colorado AIM chapter has lead a protest against the Columbus Day Parade in Denver declaring, “As the original people of this land, we cannot and will not, tolerate social and political festivities that celebrate our genocide. We are committed to the active, open and public rejection of disrespect and racism in its various forms---including Columbus Day and Columbus Day Parades.” For these last 17 years they have tried to educate the general public about their feelings for Columbus Day; they have protested, blockaded and gone to jail for their efforts to stop this parade of indoctrinated myth keepers.
The issue of Columbus and Columbus Day is not easily resolvable in a society spoon feed on its propaganda of myths and historical lies that propagate the idea that Europeans were a superior race of two legged homo sapiens that came to save the Indians from their barbaric ways.
The Europeans who came and settled invented and schooled the myth that they had created the New World by their imaged “discovery, “ just as they had come to create the creation myth of its origins known as the “Bearing Strait Theory.” Native Americans just had to have come from somewhere, but not the western hemisphere.
What good does Columbus Day contribute by celebrating racist propaganda and myths that perpetuate genocide in institutions of education. Nazi Germany is perfect example of where such false, racist and opportunistic ideas lead. The most popularly believed myth of scholars is that native Americans were Jews.
Louis Hennepin, in his
New Discovery of a Vast Country in America wrote, “These savages originally sprung from the Jews,” because they lived “in a form of tents, like as did Jews” and they are “subtle and crafty as Jews.”
The first thought that crept to mind was that the encounter with the statue of Columbus must represent some sort of warning and I had better watch my step. Sure enough in 1996 I was teased back to Barcelona, Spain where I began a new life out of the reach of the FBI and the emergence of fascist rumblings in the States.
Europe too, I felt, had a historical debt and there was social need to transmit that Indian cultures had not been completely destroyed. We still existed despite 500 years of genocide and so I founded an AIM museum to bring awareness of it to Europeans so that they would not forget.
Robert Robideau is Co Director Leonard Peltier Defense Committee. He can be reached at:

Denver Columbus Day Confronted with Marches & Encampment
Colorado AIM Calls for Support to Halt Celebration of Genocide in 2007
Klee Benally, Indigenous Action Media

Denver, CO - Indigenous Peoples and their allies gathered in Denver, Colorado to confront the celebration of Christopher Columbus, one of the most infamous symbols of colonization, genocide, and slavery.
Hundreds of people from throughout the country participated in peaceful events organized by the Transform Columbus Day Alliance, which has been protesting the Columbus Day Parade in Denver since 1989.
According to the Alliance’s website, “The celebration of Columbus is the veneration of colonialism, conquest, and genocide. As people of conscience, we must move our society closer to the democratic values of equality for all, through historical accuracy, justice in the judicial and political processes of the country, and respect for diverse peoples and cultures.” On the night of October 6th, the Four Directions March brought together people of all nations. From the East, South, West and North the marches wound through downtown Denver with participants singing traditional tribal songs, holding colorful signs and wearing colors representing four directions. The four marches converged at Veteran’s Park in front of the state’s capitol building. Prayers were offered and representatives from the American Indian Movement of Colorado and local tribes expressed their concerns with the celebration of Columbus Day, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, sacred sites protection and ongoing struggles for Indigenous People’s rights.
“Sure there is some anger in our hearts.” Said Dr. George Tinker from the Osage Nation. “There can’t be help but be anger at the injustice in the world around us, at the power mongering that goes on in political places like the Governor’s office in this state and the Mayor’s office in this town. They’ve had 17 years to deal with the reality we’ve brought in each protest. We have a right to feel some anger, use that anger, hold on to it make it work in a good way, in a gentle way, in a nonviolent way. That’s why we’re here. We stand for peace!”
Glen Spagnuolo, a member of the group Progressive Italians to Transform the Columbus Holiday, urged for peaceful action against the parade and called for support to halt the 100th year of the Columbus Day celebration in 2007. He called for groups from throughout the country to join in efforts to stop next year’s parade. “All gloves are off” he stated.

Although signs were posted saying, “No camping or sleeping”. an “All Nations Camp” was established at the Veteran’s park with a teepee and over a dozen tents.
Glenn Morris, member of the Leadership Council of the American Indian Movement of Colorado proclaimed, “This now is a liberated zone. This now is a piece of freedom in the middle of Denver. Tonight this is a free community of free people who have a different vision for this city and this state and this country.” He presented permits for the camp obtained from the Cheyenne and Ogalala Nations.
Initially law enforcement officials stated that anyone remaining in the park after an 11:00 p.m. curfew would be evicted, but there were no incidents. The encampment was granted an overnight permit by the city in an email just the night before, which was neither requested nor acknowledged by the organizers.
“We don’t need the permission of this city to occupy land that does not belong to them in the first place.” Said Mano Andrews, a volunteer street medic and organizer. “’Granting’ us permit to sleep here in no way exempts government officials from the fact that this is Indian land, treaties here were broken, and there is a responsibility to recognize that as one of the many horrors of Columbus’ legacy, and to take a stand to abolish this holiday. It is time the officials that condone this barbaric holiday take the same responsibility to denounce the Indian killer Columbus.”
Food Not Bombs brought a mobile bus with a kitchen to freely feed people, street medics cared for everyone from local homeless to young children while Copwatch and Legal Observers patrolled the area to ensure that rights were upheld. Police presence was minimal, across the street from the park several cops were stationed in SUVs and bike cops and unmarked cars patrolled the area occasionally.
A ceremonial fire was lit and tended to throughout the night and at around 4:00 a.m. police barricades were set up around a small portion of the parade route.
The sunrise was welcomed with a prayer circle and traditional singing.

Before the parade began, dozens of police with riot gear lined the street, protesters assumed their positions with signs along the barricade and a handful of Columbus supporters clenched small Italian and American Flags. Although it was a sunny day, an eerie silence echoed through the downtown area away from the park as only a handful of people watched the parade.
In a display that only fueled the tension between people in the parade and protesters, the Sons of Italy’s Columbus Day Parade began with the mounted Calvary from Fort Carson’s 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. The 3rd Colorado Calvary is infamous for its role in the 1864 “Sand Creek Massacre” In which hundreds of Cheyennes and Arapahos including women and children were killed and mutilated, while the Calvary reportedly paraded scalps and other body parts, including human fetuses and genitalia through the streets of Denver.
Harsh comments were yelled from both sides as motorcycles in the parade attempted to drown out but only compounded the intensity.
The Sons of Italy punctuated the parade with additional messages of intolerance. Vehicles displaying slogans such as, “Homosexuality is a sin that will kill” and “Stop gay marriage” ended the procession.
In contrast to previous years that have been marked by more direct confrontation (two years of the protests have seen numerous arrests) no one attempted to physically block the parade.

Related links:

More photos at:
Calvary photo by Richard Myers ( - Independent Indigenous

Monday, October 09, 2006

Fire Witch has photos from the convoy protest

We'll be posting photo's from the convoy protest a little later. In the meanwhile, go check out Fire Witch's blog for pics.
Fire Witch blog

Saturday, October 07, 2006

2:30 am in the park.

Taking a quick break from the All Natios Camp. There are some tents and tipis set up. Some people are sleeping while others are visiting or getting ready for the Convoy of Conquest.

Here are a couple of photos taken around 2:30 am.

The Fire Witch has more photos on her blog. Go check it out Here

Friday, October 06, 2006

Video-Challenging Columbus Day on Democracy Now

The Democracy Now website has a video and audio file of an interview Amy Goodman did with Glenn Morris and Glenn Spagnuolo.

Description Monday is known as Columbus Day, which is supposed to commemorate the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the so-called "new world" in 1492. But the holiday has long caused anger amongst people of color, especially Native Americans, who object to honoring a man who opened the door to European colonization, the exploitation of native peoples and the slave trade. We talk to Glenn Morris of the American Indian Movement of Colorado and Glenn Spagnuolo of Progressive Italians Transforming the Columbus Day Holiday
From the Transcript
AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Morris is a member of the Leadership Council of the American Indian Movement of Colorado. He's an attorney and associate professor of political science at the University of Colorado, Denver. Glenn Spagnuolo is a member of Transform Columbus Day Alliance and the director of PITCH, that's Progressive Italians Transforming the Columbus Day Holiday. First, I asked them about the history of Columbus Day in the state of Colorado. This is Glenn Morris.

GLENN MORRIS: Columbus Day began -- most people don't know -- as a state holiday in Colorado in 1907. But what's more important for people to understand is the ideology behind Columbus Day and why there is a Columbus Day in the United States or in Colorado. And there's been a lot of discussion lately about Hugo Chavez at the United Nations, when he raised up Noam Chomsky's book, Hegemony or Survival.

And if we could begin a little bit by just reducing the terms “hegemony” and “ideology” to their simplest forms: if an ideology is a set of ideas that allows a nation or a people to describe reality in terms that are comfortable for them, but more importantly, that describes the world as it should be, and hegemony is driven by a national ideology that is so comprehensive that it becomes almost invisible, like water to fish or air to human beings, and in a sense then, we can understand Columbus Day as a hegemonic tool, the way that Chomsky uses the term, because it makes no historical sense to have a national holiday to Columbus in a country that he never visited, in a state that he never knew existed.

And so, we have to ask the very simple question: why does the holiday even exist? And it exists in part to advance a national ideology of celebrating invasion, conquest and colonialism. And the proponents of the Columbus Day holiday in Colorado and Columbus parades, and so on, make no bones about the fact that they're celebrating the colonization of the Americas and, in fact, have told us on several occasions, “Look, we're going to have this celebration. We're going to have these parades to Columbus. And let's get one thing straight,” they say to us. “This is not your country anymore. This is our country now. And you'd better get with the program.” So, for us, the celebration of Columbus, who was an African slave trader prior to coming to the Americas, then began the colonization of the Americas

To view the video, listen to the interview and view the transcript, click on the following link. Democracy Now interview

we'll be posting from this evening until tomorrow

We'll be offering updates, audio and photos beginning this evening. The updates might be carried on other blogs so check back and we'll provide links to those sites.

Lyons-What Columbus Day does to Americans

The following Scott Richard Lyons op-ed is featured on today's web edition of ICT.

What Columbus Day does to Americans?
Posted: October 06, 2006
by: Scott Richard Lyons

And now we come to another Columbus Day, and with it the usual Italian-American parades and Native American protests. Things were no different last year in Syracuse, N.Y., which dutifully featured both. But Syracusans did seem pleased when a pretty young lady of Vietnamese descent, Myphuong Phan, was crowned the city's Miss Columbus Day 2005, According to Syracuse's Post-Standard, the committee that selected Phan for the honor did it because ''Columbus discovered America for everyone.''

Christopher Columbus: he's not just for Italians anymore! Many Americans would doubtless applaud this multicultural twist on Columbus, and some might even conclude that it lent an additional meaning to the day's festivities: namely, another welcomed step away from that grisly legacy known as the Vietnam War. Surely, if Columbus discovered America for Phan as much as anyone else, there's a bit less incentive to concern ourselves with nagging unpleasantries like napalm or My Lai.

Of course, that wouldn't change the fact that the Vietnam War was waged in precisely the same imperialist spirit that Columbus represents, whether we call it stopping the spread of communism, opening up new markets, or discovering the New World. In the cases of both Vietnam and the Americas - and here we can quietly mention Iraq as well - the sovereignty, intelligence and humanity of people who inhabited invaded lands was considered a moot point by ''liberators'' who presumed to know best and acted accordingly. In such cases, you can be certain that the deaths of Natives will always exceed those of the invaders, and Native life will inevitably be more difficult in the aftermath. full op ed

4 Directions March and All Nation Camp-starting today

Once again, the 4 Directions March is being held this afternoon. Marchers are to assemble at 5:30.

North-The Mercury Cafe
2199 California Street
Please wear red

East-Governor’s Park
7th & Logan
Please wear yellow

South-Four Winds Center
5th & Bannock
Please wear white

meet at the flagpole
Please wear black

The All Nations Camp will begin after the march.