October 05, 2007

Columbus Day = most important issue?

Morris:  How Columbus Day harms American IndiansManifest Destiny was declared a success at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, the first time that Columbus was elevated to national icon status. The World's Fair, known also as the Columbian Exposition, was the merger of the philosophy and the success of Johnson v. M'Intosh with idea of Columbus as national poster boy for U.S. colonialism. Professor Shari Hundorf wrote that "[b]y commemorating Columbus' 'discovery' of the Americas in 1492, planners made imperial conquest the defining moment of the nation's past [and future]."'

Columbus Day has become the U.S. holiday that celebrates the imperialist redemption of America from Indian "savagery." Johnson v. M'Intosh becomes the necessary legal reinforcement to salve the conscience of America for the theft of a hemisphere. Columbus Day has become the mask that allows America to pretend that it can justify the taking of other peoples' homelands. Luther Standing Bear wrote in 1933 that "The man from Europe is still a foreigner and an alien. And he still hates the man who questioned his path across the continent." The United States has created Columbus Day to rationalize its historical crimes against indigenous peoples.

If Native people do not challenge the fundamental premise of the "doctrine of discovery," as celebrated every year through Columbus Day, then the racist foundation upon which all federal Indian law and policy is constructed will remain intact.
Comment:  Clever bit of writing to merge Columbus Day with Johnson v. McIntosh and say they're both the most important issue facing Indians today. But I don't buy it. One could protest one of these issues without the slightest reference to the other. The Columbus Day protests remain symbolic, not substantive.

1 comment:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Yes, the attacking of symbols is a EuroMan ideal and there have been substantive results. Indian Territory, Willowbrook, the Tuskeegee Study, The Jewish Chronic Disease Project, Dachau, Manzanar, My Lai, The Alfred Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, and the World Trade Center on 9/11. Let's hear it for substantiveness. Huzzah!
All Best
Russ Bate