October 08, 2012

Winning the war on Columbus?

Columbus Day parade is quiet: Goodbye, Columbus protests?

By Patricia CalhounLast year, Columbus Day seemed on a particular collision course. While the annual Columbus Day Parade was gearing up downtown, the anti-Columbus Day protesters were gathering outside the Capitol--right by Occupy Denver. And Occupy Denver had planned its own march through downtown at noon, right as the parade, and the protests it eternally inspires, wound down. But somehow, it all came off without a hitch...or an arrest.

Glenn Morris, the University of Colorado Denver associate professor who's long been in the forefront of the Columbus Day protests, had met with Occupy Denver in advance of the event, and some of them "did participate with us in our protest of the Columbus Hate Speech Parade," he reported at the time. And although the Occupy Denver General Assembly had been reluctant to sign off on any agenda, it unanimously endorsed the Colorado AIM-initiated Indigenous Platform Proposal.

But Occupy Denver is all but over, and this year, Transform Columbus Day protesters focused their efforts on Pueblo, site of the first Columbus Day parade back in 1905. "By saying NO to Columbus and his day," the group proclaimed, "we are saying YES to a new future of mutual respect, collaboration, and equality."

And yes to a future of quiet Saturdays in Denver?
War on Columbus

By Carol BerryIn 1907, Colorado became the birthplace of the holiday but some of its citizens are not alone in objecting to the celebration today. In the last three years, and sometimes earlier, others have abandoned, renamed, revised or replaced Columbus Day. The entities include the National Congress of American Indians, Native American Rights Fund, Navajo Nation (which has replaced Columbus Day with an April 4 Navajo Nation Sovereignty Day), Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Tohono O’odham Nation, Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan, Jicarilla Apache Tribe, and Gila River Indian Community.

Cities that have changed their celebrations include Berkeley, California, which now celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day, Portland, Oregon and Duluth, Minnesota. A number of states have come on board as well including Alaska, South Dakota, which celebrates Native American Day, Hawaii, which celebrates Discoverers’ Day, Nevada, and Alabama. There are also several colleges and universities throughout the country that hold anti-Columbus Day events. Although Cherokee and Muscogee (Creek) nations’ tribal offices remain open on the holiday, the Osage Nation and United Keetoowah Band’s tribal offices close and the tribes refer to the day as Osage Day and Native American Day, respectively.

“For Native Americans, Columbus Day should not be a day of celebration,” said a Mississippi Choctaw Band Chief. “His arrival on our shores marked the beginning of centuries of exploitation of our people and our land. Much better that we should celebrate our rich culture and our traditions.”

“To me, I am really excited Gov. [George] Mickelson made the effort to change the holiday,” said Dani Daugherty, an attorney who works for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Aberdeen, South Dakota. “The main reason is that I don’t think we should be honoring Columbus” since the records are “filled with atrocities,” she told the Aberdeen News.
Comment:  This year I didn't see anyone anyone defending Columbus's virtue. The condemnations seemed pretty universal.

I also didn't see much about traditional Columbus Day celebrations, or protests thereof. I'm not sure why, but there could be several explanations:

  • Protests migrating from the real world to cyberspace, where people were vocal.

  • Exhaustion after a year of Occupy protests.

  • Activism is focused on the 2012 elections instead.

  • Activists are slowly but surely winning the war on Columbus.

  • It would be nice if the last explanation were the reason, but I doubt that's it. I suspect we'll have to battle the glorification of "Wrong Way" Columbus for decades to come.

    For more on Columbus Day protests, see Occupy Denver Joins Columbus Protest and Columbus Day 2010 Protests.

    Below:  "Protest signs lined the streets during the Columbus Day parade in Denver, Colorado in 2011. This year's event was so small, some couldn't even find it."


    dmarks said...

    I support the war on Columbus Day, but oppose the Occupy Movement and its inherent greed and demands that the ruling classes have even more power and the ruled even less rights.

    Rob said...

    Your comments about Occupy are unsubstantiated nonsense. Here's what the movement actually addressed:


    The main issues raised by Occupy Wall Street are social and economic inequality, greed, corruption and the perceived undue influence of corporations on government—particularly from the financial services sector. The OWS slogan, "We are the 99%," refers to income inequality and wealth distribution in the U.S. between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the population.