Archive for Friday, October 7, 2005

Columbus no cause for celebration, say American Indians

October 7, 2005


Haskell Indian Nations University is a federal school. That means Monday is a mandatory holiday to honor Christopher Columbus.

But many there say an enforced day off to honor the man whose arrival led to death, disease and subjugation for innumerable American Indians is a stick in the eye. The school's staff members and roughly 1,000 students will be perhaps the single biggest group getting the day off for the holiday in the Lawrence area.

"What's ironic about it is that KU does have school," said Katrina McClure, 26, a member of the Muskogee Creek Nation who is taking classes at both Kansas University and Haskell this semester. "On a day that's really looked at as a sad day for indigenous people, we're forced to observe it."

Haskell President Karen Swisher said employees sometimes ask to swap the holiday for another day off, but she said she can't force anyone to go to work that day. Swisher said she isn't personally bothered by having to take the day off.

"It's a federal holiday. We are a federal institution," she said. "Each of us, in their own way, can do the protesting that we want within our limits and within our own convictions."

Lawrence residents, from left, Cricket Gates, and her husband, Anthony Fernandes, are heading to Denver today to participate in a march protesting Columbus Day. Gates said, "I just feel that people don&squot;t necessarily know the history, and they don&squot;t know exactly what they&squot;re celebrating."

Lawrence residents, from left, Cricket Gates, and her husband, Anthony Fernandes, are heading to Denver today to participate in a march protesting Columbus Day. Gates said, "I just feel that people don't necessarily know the history, and they don't know exactly what they're celebrating."

In past years, Haskell students and teachers have organized teach-ins or other events to mark the holiday. Student-body president Caleena Hernasy, a Navajo from Fort Defiance, Ariz., said that so far this year, no major event has been planned.

Hernasy said Columbus' legacy is one of the most frequently debated issues on campus, along with American Indian sports mascots and the future of the wetlands. But she said some students view it as just another day off.

Recent Haskell graduate Cricket Gates, 35, plans to drive to Denver today with her husband, Anthony Fernandes, to take part in an annual protest march this afternoon that coincides with a separate pro-Columbus parade.

"I just feel that people don't necessarily know the history, and they don't know exactly what they're celebrating," said Gates, who's now pursuing a master's degree in social work at KU. "They don't know who Columbus really is ... People need to know that with his following came disease, slaughter, stealing, raping, greed, and it was an interruption to our well-balanced societies."

Gates estimated that the vast majority of students at Haskell frown on Columbus' legacy, but during discussions "there's always one person that says 'we need to forget about this and just move on.'"

Lawrence resident Valentin Romero, 79, is a longtime member of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic charity named in Columbus' honor. He said the group's main focus is on philanthropy - not on Columbus himself - but he still believes the explorer should be honored.

"He ought to be, simply because he was a navigator," Romero said, and because he brought Christianity to the continent.

"He was one of the first ones. That doesn't necessarily mean he was the bad guy," he said. "The ones that followed him were the ones that were really destructive."

But in Fernandes' view, Columbus came to the New World aiming to take other people's wealth.

He pointed to an excerpt from one of Columbus' journals written after he made contact with the Arawak Indians. The excerpt, cited in historian Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States, reads, "They would make fine servants ... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want."


billybeanbag 12 years, 5 months ago

So does it make me a bad man that I'm glad I get the day off work and I look forward to sleeping in on Monday?

I see the reason behind the outrage, but as a reformed white trash honky who's underpaid and overworked, I'm just really glad to get a 4 day work week.

concerned_citizen 12 years, 5 months ago

Columbus certainly deserves nothing like a holiday. I applaud Haskell student's efforts to educate people on the so-called "discoveror" of America.

But a four-day work week is also nothing to be sneered at.

kcwarpony 12 years, 5 months ago

billybeanbag, looking forward to taking the day off for White European Interloper Day does not make you a bad man. Enjoy it, at least it's good for something.

Steve Jacob 12 years, 5 months ago

Funny, does the LJW just recycle the same story every year? Every year the same story.

But in my lifetime, this will no longer be a holiday. Very few people get the day off anymore, and they will trade it for another day. I would say make election day (first tuesday on Nov.), but everyone would just take the monday off, and go on vacation.

calvin 12 years, 5 months ago

Columbus Day, what a great one! The day the American Indians found the dumb ass Columbus lost at sea.

pz5g1 12 years, 5 months ago

Columbus and his people have the technology to sail around the world and make contact with a new group of people who are tootling around in bark canoes in their semi-stone age culture and Columbus is the dumbass?

Cayugakid 12 years, 5 months ago

Three Mile Island,Love Canal,Tar Creek. Technology? Give me a good bark canoe anyday!

Lepanto1571 12 years, 5 months ago

Yes Conservativeman, according to modern NEO-liberals, those peace-loving cannibals should have been left free to practice the rites of their culture. I mean really, who was the West to pass "judgement" and impose themselves on another peace-loving and innocent culture. (Yuk Yuk).

As you mentioned the enrichment of the West through Incan and Aztec gold was probably one of the most decisive factors in blunting the Turk. Most folks today do not realize or care to remember the significance of that Empire and what it meant to the survival of the West.

On Oct 7 we celebrate the great Western victory against the Turk at Lepanto 434 years ago. As the Spanish built most it's fleet present that day out of capital gained in the New World, I'd have to say that was money well spent.

It's a win-win actually:

Conquer a cannibalistic, human sacrificing culture that had yet to invent the wheel and impose civilization upon them for their own good (thus making them actually productive and re-integrate them into the human race); enrich our coiffers; and use much of that wealth to finance war-machinery in order defeat the Ottoman at key and decisive places in order to force it's decline.

"Evolution" in action, right? :)

Darwin: "The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world."-- Charles Darwin, "Life and Letters," p. 318.

Seems to me that if Columbus and Cortes were racists, so, most certainly, was the high priest of evolution (Darwin) and ultimately his disciples.

The first one's to criticize Columbus and, of course, Cortes (a man among men), are always the first one's to embrace evolution yet condemn those that seemingly follow it's guiding principles.

Well said CM, but burdening a liberal revisionist self-hate fest with facts only results in raising them to new levels of hysteria, which is, in itself, a win-win! :)

modelun 12 years, 5 months ago

Columbus was in the wrong place at the right time. A time when throughout much of Europe infant mortality was an estimated 1 in two. When plagues were running rampant due to the unfit living conditions created by the "great" civilization that "saved" us savages. Sorry much of my indigneous cultural wisdom has only been offered by uncivilized carvings and oral historical accounts. Much of my understanding of the westernized written tradition is based primarily on the biased accusations that are now presented as "facts." The sacrificial ways of the Inca and the Aztec are actually very much refutable so if you ever get an oppurtunity to get away from the discovery channel I'd suggest reading a book or two regarding the subject. Cannibalism? It is interesting that you bring up that point since if I am not mistaken I remember some diaries of some of those early colonial types, possibly the puritans, accounting that many of them were eating stews and such with indigenous people as the primary ingredient. Oh, but then of course to those conservative men out there we arent really human so that must not constitute "cannibalism." Thank god that we were sent these pillars of "civilization" since without them we would not have learned how to cut an entire child and mother in half with a single swipe or the fact that we could use little heathenous indian children as dog food.

modelun 12 years, 5 months ago

"Ancient history, get over it." I kow it is very easy to state such blatantly ignorant suggestions but just let me try and inform you on some not so ancient history on indigenous peoples that even conservative man may find interesting. The basic assumption here in the good ol U.S. of A is that the Indians "lost the war" so they should be happy with what they got. Somewhere I think people have a tendancy to forget about these documents that may occur during "wartime" periods, ther called treaties. Heard of em? Yes, many treties were signed with the ultimate belief that tribes were completely sovereign nations. This notion was shifted after the "Marshall Trilogies," or documents that are offered for the supreme court that native peoples represent "domestic dependant nations." Although even according to your good ol' constitution and international law to enter into a treaty itself suggests that tribes are nations. Heres the good part, the U.S. governemtn broke every single one of the 371 treaty agreements they willingly committed to, so as a fact the very foundation of the U.S. are questionable according to international law. Any how what happens with "domestic dependent" status that was imposed upon now incapable nations in defending themselves (due to disease and wholesale slaughter) is the "trust responsibility" of the U.S. This assumes that natives were not intelligent enough to watch over themselves and their assets/resources/land. What is so wonderful about this is that now the U.S. controls whatever they wish in regards to selling land and resources at pennies on the dollars (what this means is that if in normal society a piece of lan or a barrel of oil is worth a dollar the U.S. would not take the welfare of the tribe into consideration and then sale it for 2 cents or whatever, this was not due to natives not wishing to be in control of the myriad of assets that exist within reservation boundaries but that the U.S. imposed control) as they see fit. Billions of dollars ar missing and so on and so on. So it just might be that the poverty felt and lived by many indigneous peoples in this country is not there fault after all. The rulings may be ancient history but the repurcussions are felt to this day.

modelun 12 years, 5 months ago

Let me continue... Has any one ever heard of the boarding school era? If not this is an era where native kids ranging in ages from 3 to 20 something were forcefully removed from their homes (this of course is a violatiuon of internationl law of Crimes against Humanity and the Crimes of Genocide of the 1948 Geneva Convention) and forced to learn western education, religion, and lifestyles. If they could not or would not say refuse to speak traditional languages then they were tortured sexually, physically, mentally, spiritually. Many were actually murdered and expirimental drugs and medical operations were tested on these children. Maybe we have them to thank for some of the modern medicinal advancements, but of course much of these illegal mistreatments have been covered up to an extent. But I know we should be thankful that we no longer can remember or wish to remember what it is to be such a primitive savage due to these civilized ways of conversion. I wonder if this psychological torture has anything to do with the high rates of social problems or at risk behaviors that are occuring at high rates on reservations and within indigenous communities. Take suicide by elders wich is highest amongst all racial categories in the U.S. Many of these people are the ones that perhaps were victimized by the boarding school "experience." Of course that is ancient history. So is the sterilization practices that existed during the 1960s and 70s during which up to 40 percent odf indigneous women of child bearing age were sterilized in many instances without them even being informed. Am I out of line for suggesting that possibly there would have been more indigenous people born had this not occured or is that ancient history also?

modelun 12 years, 5 months ago

One final comment... Let us not forget the hundreds of thousands of indigneous peoples in South America that are murdered and tortured for profit of corporations seeking oil and other resources. In several instances the U.S. federal governent and the CIA has been found to covertly or openely support this senseless slaughter/genocide. Let us not forget about the communities that have pandemeic cancer rates (the NAvajo, the Akwesasne) due to unauthorized or illegal modes of mining or dumping such toxins as PCBs and Uranium to name a few. That is not ancient history.

kcwarpony 12 years, 5 months ago

conservativeman, "Waiting around on reservations is an invite to destruction. When has waiting for the next handout ever been a formula for success."

Native-owned businesses generate billions MONDAY, AUGUST 1, 2005

"Native businesses took in $26.4 billion in 2002, according to a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau. American Indians and Alaska Natives own more than 206,000 businesses across the country, the U.S. Census Bureau said on Thursday. This was up from the 197,300 firms that were operating in 1997, according to the report."

Doesn't sound like we're sitting around doing nothing:

"...but what have you done for us lately?"

November 15, 2001 Whiteman: Native Americans have proud military heritage

by Ann Duble Standard Editor

'"Native American Alden Whiteman followed the same path of his father, grandfather and ancestors before him when he joined the military. Whiteman, a descendent of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, talked about Native Americans' proud service to the U.S. military and paid tribute to the soldiers now serving at Fort Detrick's opening ceremony in honor of Native American Heritage Month. "No other group has sent a larger percentage of soldiers to our wars," said Deputy Installation Commander Col. James Greenwood."

Not to mention providing an unbreakable code during WWII and two and a half years ago Lori Piestewa gave her life, what more do you want?

kcwarpony 12 years, 5 months ago

Sorry conservativeman, But all you want is for us to give up our sovereignty (and more land, no doubt). "Integrate completely", why would we want to do that? That would mean giving up our nations, culture, way of life:which, by the way, were here long before Columbus or anyone else stumbled on to us.

And since you admitted that the US government is ripping the Indians off, why don't you ask the government to stop and deal with us in an honest and honorable way. Have you ever tried to do something about, other than asking us to give up everything?

Again, sorry, but you are asking for too much.

Lepanto1571 12 years, 5 months ago

Modelun, your are either misinformed or hoplessly partisan.

I hate to burden your European hate-fest with facts, but I will anyway.

I wonder what it was like being flayed alive or, for an added bonus, having your heart cut out all for the glory of Huitzilopochtli?

Not to mention the 'enlightened' practice, especially popular amongst the ruling class elites (no modern NEO-liberal egalitarianism for the Aztecs mind you), of feasting on the flesh of victims.

Imagine the site of looking up the sides of the great temple of Huitzilopochtli to see the stewn limbs of sacrificial victims, minus hearts of course, and, for the priviledged few, skin!

I reflect quite endearingly at the thought of the high priests of Huitzilopochtli wearing the flayed skin capes of sacrificial victim females. It brings a tear to my eye.

What a grand site it must have been to have witnessed 20,000 innocents sacrificed in a single day by skin caped priests to commemorate the temple of Huitzilopochtli, not to mention the 7,000 in a single day for the beloved Montezuma.

What were those backqard conquistadores thinking? It's such a mystery!

Well anyway, the terrible, awful, backward Europeans didn't think too much of Huitzilopochtli it seems and took what we would consider today to be "unilateral" action.

Of course modern NEO-liberals wouldn't want to pass judgment on the Aztecs as in our multi-cultural "enlightenment" that has not the will to draw conclusions of superiority and inferiority, tells us that the Mexicas should have been left free to feed on one another and exercise the rites of their culture and "religion."

We really should have let them be so they could have gone on eradicating themselves through sacrifice, self-feeding on the bodies of their conquered foes, wearing human skin capes, and vicious enslavement.

Yes, the Euros introduce smallpox into the population. The truth is that it eradicated about 80% of the indigenous population.

Looks like we just were just hurrying along a process that they were engaged in anyway.

This is Darwinian evolution in action. I thought all you enlightened NEO-liberal types believed in evolution.

I fail to see the problem.


"The more civilized so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world."-- Charles Darwin, Life and Letters, p. 318.

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