Saturday, September 01, 2007

Truth Commission: Columbus, Columbus Day, and the Columbian Legacy

The American Indian Movemement of Colorado and The Transform Columbus Day Alliance present:

The Official Colorado Truth Commission On Columbus, Columbus Day and the Columbian Legacy

Saturday, September 8 and Sunday, September 9
9:30 am – 6:00 pm
The Great Hall, the Iliff School of Theology, 2201 S. University Blvd., Denver

The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.
--Milan Kundera

Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race. Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shores, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society. From the sixteenth century forward, blood flowed in battles over racial supremacy. We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed, even today we have not permitted ourselves to reject or to feel remorse for this shameful episode. --The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

2007 marks the 100th anniversary of the creation by the state of Colorado of a holiday to “celebrate” Christopher Columbus. This holiday, and what is taught about it in our schools, has perpetuated a story of Columbus as a heroic figure, a great explorer who brought the gifts of civilization to the New World. But this “official story” is only one perspective; there are others that needs to be told. For nearly 20 years, the American Indian Movement of Colorado (AIM) and its allies in the Transform Columbus Day Alliance (TCD) have invited Denver and Colorado political leaders to co-sponsor a community dialogue about how that celebration represents the history of this country, and the consequences of that representation. Those invitations have met with no response. AIM/TCD is now moving forward with its own Truth Commission.

As South Africa, Guatemala, East Timor and other countries have used truth commissions to expose the reality of their histories, Colorado will now, on this centenary, engage in an honest and open discussion of how the national narrative of the United States is remembered and transmitted to future generations.

The Transform Columbus Day Alliance invites you to hear two days of expert testimony on the historical reality behind the celebration of Columbus and the 500-year Columbian legacy, as well as personal testimony by people whose lives have been affected by the celebration of Columbus Day. Invitations have also been sent to organizers of the Columbus Day Parade, to Denver mayor John Hickenlooper and to Colorado Governor Bill Ritter to offer their perspective on the holiday.
After hearing testimony, the Truth Commission will issue findings of fact, and recommendations about how Colorado and the U.S. might move forward from the division and acrimony of the past to a future of mutual respect and historical integrity. A report, along with audio and video documentation from the hearings, will be available for educators, students, and political, religious and community leaders.

Distinguished commissioners who will hear testimony and issue a report include Dr. Vincent Harding, Iliff School of Theology; Professor Nancy Ehrenreich, University of Denver Sturm College of Law; Professor Salvatore Salerno, University of Minnesota; Carrie Dann, Western Shoshone Nation.


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