Here is “Why more places are abandoning Columbus Day in favor of Indigenous Peoples Day.”
On the eve of what most Americans celebrate as “Columbus Day” I found myself turning to the History Channel to watch “Who Really Discovered America?” I was instantly upset by the summations of world experts on how other cultures, civilizations if you will, came to settle or exist in North America. My husband, a Caucasian, said, “It’s so ridiculous how Europeans always try to prove they were there first.” I began to put things into perspective. I began to remember a time when I didn’t care where someone came from.
Around the age of 13, I was learning the hard way the differences of people. I lived just over the other side of the road of the reservation line and often would walk through the aisles of the Rolla, North Dakota Ben Franklin store with the elderly white ladies who worked there on my heels, watching for American Indian thievery. This sad story has been retold time and again in most writings of Metis and Ojibwe people who grew up on the Turtle Mountain Reservation along the Canada border in North Dakota.
As I listened to the ridiculous claims of the History Channel’s program on Sunday, I “harrumphed” my way through the “expert” analysis. First of all, I was always told that there is no medical way to tell the difference between races of people. Now, however, this show claims that DNA testing done on Cherokees may tie them to Irish descendents. I can’t believe this claim and find the invasion of a culture of people so amazingly disruptive of the balance of life—I have to continue watching it.
Another claim is that American Indians are tied to Chileans. This quote from MotherEarthTravel.com undeniably makes the claim that “farther down the social ladder were a few African slaves and large numbers of native Americans.”
The point is, why don’t they ask the American Indians themselves? I’m pretty sure I recall seeing, side by side, with American tribal news, in Indian Country Today and The Circle, articles that supported brother and sister aboriginal peoples from South America and New Zealand. Aboriginal people find no distinction between being oppressed in Australia and being oppressed in America for the crime of being an aboriginal descendent. I’ve had to fight for my rights like any other oppressed individual across the globe.
“This” being — accede to land dispossession and slavery…
But, if you do not do this, and maliciously make delay in it, I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter into your country, and shall make war against you in all ways and manners that we can, and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church and of their Highnesses; we shall take you and your wives and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and as such shall sell and dispose of them as their Highnesses may command; and we shall take away your goods, and shall do you all the mischief and damage that we can, as to vassals who do not obey, and refuse to receive their lord, and resist and contradict him; and we protest that the deaths and losses which shall accrue from this are your fault, and not that of their Highnesses, or ours, nor of these cavaliers who come with us. And that we have said this to you and made this Requisition, we request the notary here present to give us his testimony in writing, and we ask the rest who are present that they should be witnesses of this Requisition.”
From the Grand Fork Herald:
TAMPA, Fla. — Jeffrey Kolowith’s kindergarten students read a poem about Christopher Columbus, take a journey to the New World on three paper ships and place the explorer’s picture on a timeline through history.
Kolowith’s students learn about the explorer’s significance — though they also come away with a more nuanced picture of Columbus than the noble discoverer often portrayed in pop culture and legend.
“I talk about the situation where he didn’t even realize where he was,” Kolowith said. “And we talked about how he was very, very mean, very bossy.”
Columbus’ stature in U.S. classrooms has declined somewhat through the years, and many districts will not observe his namesake holiday on Monday. Although lessons vary, many teachers are trying to present a more balanced perspective of what happened after Columbus reached the Caribbean and the suffering of indigenous populations.
“The whole terminology has changed,” said James Kracht, executive associate dean for academic affairs in the Texas A&M College of Education and Human Development. “You don’t hear people using the world ’discovery’ anymore like they used to. ’Columbus discovers America.’ Because how could he discover America if there were already people living here?” Continue reading
From the Brown Daily Herald:
The faculty’s decision last week to rename Columbus Day “Fall Weekend” on the University calendar has garnered more attention both locally and nationally than the average code revision, with Providence mayor David Cicilline ’83 and Rush Limbaugh, the high-profile conservative pundit, among those decrying the move.
Though the faculty’s vote last Tuesday seemed to reflect student opinion — a recent Herald poll suggested that the majority of Brown students disapproved of continuing to call the holiday Columbus Day — the resolution has prompted a wave of criticism from city leaders, who said the move was hypocritical and disrespectful to Italian-Americans.
“I definitely support the decision,” Avi Kenny ’11 said. Columbus is “undeserving of a holiday,” he said.
“What they teach us in elementary school is misleading — hero worshipping,” said Josh Marcotte ’11, calling the faculty’s decision “a progressive step.”
Araceli Mendez ’12 said she too supported the change, but understood why some groups, such as Italian-Americans, might see it as offensive. “It’s not that complicated of an issue, but I understand where they’re coming from,” she said.
Michael Hogan ’11 said he generally approved of the decision to rename Columbus Day, but expressed some concern about the precedent such a move might set. “Are we going to stop Presidents Day because Thomas Jefferson had slaves?” he asked.
The faculty vote was preceded by months of pressure from a small group of students who wanted the University to stop recognizing Columbus Day. The students had originally proposed that the University take a different day off, but the months of dialogue ended with the proposal to change only the name of the holiday, in part because some faculty and staff wanted the University’s October holiday to coincide with that of local schools.
Columbus Day, observed on the second Monday in October, has been a federal holiday since 1971.
From the State News:
For many people, Columbus Day is a time to celebrate the discovery of America. For Native Americans, the day is a time to remember the lives that were lost after America was founded.
The North American Indigenous Student Organization held a candlelight vigil at the rock on Farm Lane on Monday to honor the memory of Native Americans who suffered.
In previous years, NAISO has held a parade or a rally around campus, but this year, the organization wanted to do something more and thought a candlelight vigil would be more meaningful and impactful, said Melissa Beard, public relations chairperson of NAISO.
This is what I think of on Columbus Day — El Requerimiento: (hat tip)
I, (name of the Spanish official), servant of the most high and powerful kings of Castile and Leon, the conquerors of barbarous nations, their messenger and captain, notify to you, and declare in as ample form as I am capable, that God our Lord, who is one and eternal, created the heaven and the earth, and one man and one woman, of whom you and we, and all men who have been or shall be in the world are descended.
But as it has come to pass through the generations during more than five thousand years, that they have been dispersed into different parts of the world, and are divided into various kingdoms and provinces, because one country was not able to contain them, nor could they have found in one the means of subsistence and preservation: therefore God our Lord gave the charge of all those people to one man named St. Peter, whom he constituted the lord and head of all the human race, that all men, in whatever place they are born, or in whatever faith or place they are educated, might yield obedience unto him.
As the Lansing State Journal reports, the MSU Spartan hockey team is playing at UND this weekend. But there’s another story — the very serious problem of the UND arena and the nickname and logo of the UND sports teams — that LSJ and virtually everyone discussing the game is forgetting, ignoring, or even perhaps ignorant.
Here’s the lavish praise of the Ralph Engelstad Arena heaped by the LSJ:
Most of the Spartans, including coach Rick Comley, had never seen the $100 million Engelstad Arena until Friday’s late afternoon practice session. They all came away very impressed.”It’s an unreal facility. It’s something really special and I’m excited to play here,” senior center Chris Mueller said. “Driving (to the arena), there’s nothing around here, and then you come to the building … and it’s looks amazing just from the outside. Then you get in here, you seen the history of the program (with all the pictures and displays), you notice all the marble floors and then there’s bars at each end of the arena.
Here’s the history of the arena: Around 2000, Ralph Engelstad, an enormously wealthy Nevada casino operator and former UND goalie (who never graduated), offered something like $50 million to UND to build a new hockey arena and another $50 million to the school for academic programs. Engelstad had been notorious in Nevada (and fined by the Nevada gaming commission) for hosting Nazi-themed private parties. Not a great donor, but a big one. He is now deceased and a foundation looks after his strange “interests.”
At the same time, faculty and students and Grand Forks community members had campaigned to the President of UND to change the name and logo of the sport teams: “the Fighting Sioux.” UND at one time had been the Flickertails. It had become clear to that President that the university would suffer as a result of the continued use of this name and logo — frankly, because it offended so many Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people as well as other American Indians.
But Engelstad changed all that by writing a vicious letter to the State of North Dakota Board of Education threatening to shut down construction of the $50 million arena. So that was that. The offensive logo and nickname would stay. Moreover, to ensure that UND would be sorely pressed if they ever did decide to change, he ordered embedded into the facility in all nooks and crannies the logo of the “Fighting Sioux,” ensuring that any change would require a complete overhaul of the arena. A massive F.S. logo fronts the building, reminding everyone of Engelstad’s impact on this small community.
Spartan hockey players and coaches were very impressed by the building, but when they play their game there, there will likely be no (or very, very few) American Indian people in attendance to watch the “Fighting Sioux.” American Indians who show up often get jeered — or suffer the humiliation of “microaggressions,” where good natured (and bad natured) F.S. fans ask questions like, “What are you doing here?” Being an American Indian in a building like Engelstad Arena — and its two massive bars — full of drunken hockey fans who tend to dislike or even actively detest American Indian people (especially Indian students) is a deeply demoralizing and even horrifying experience.
UND students and faculty who have argued in favor of the name and logo change often (but not always) are met with hostility and implied threats of retaliation. There are around 400 American Indian students enrolled at UND and most of these students are not Lakota, Dakota, or Nakota — or are not hockey fans — and yet they suffer through the passive-aggressive questions from UND hockey fans who are always trying to justify the name and logo in some disingenuous way. The most repeated “justification” is that the name and logo “honor” American Indians. But these students don’t want to be bothered with this question about being “honored” by nearly-all-white hockey players, coaches, fans, and boosters — they want an education. Being questioned about their feelings virtually every day by strangers helps to create a very unwelcome environment for many of these students.
So when Spartan fans and players are awed by this hideous arena, they should at least be aware of the dirty underbelly of its history.
Every year around Columbus Day, there is a march in favor of the change. Here’s the coverage from Indianz.com.
As has been widely reported, UND sued the NCAA to prevent it from enforcing its decision to punish UND for the continued use of the name and logo. This lawsuit is ongoing.
Here are some materials about this very serious issue:
UND BRIDGES: “A Short History of the Fighting Sioux Name”
Robert Jensen: “What the Fighting Sioux Tells Us About Whites”
Sports Law Blog commentary (not much here)
Blue Corn Comics Commentary (with some amazing and terrible images depicting the sexualization of the Fighting Sioux logo.
Required reading: LaRocque, Angela. 2004. “Psychological Distress between American Indian and Majority Culture College Students Regarding the Use of the Fighting Sioux Nickname and Logo.” Ph.D. dissertation, Dept. of Psychology, University of North Dakota.