A year ago our mayor was ahead of our country in declaring Indigenous Day to replace Columbus Day. Why? History. American History books if they had been written correctly would not have begun in 1492 with the colonists but rather the Taino indigenous peoples who lived on the Caribbean islands for centuries. In fact, Italian born Cristóbal Colón ( Columbus) never even stepped foot on the land mass we call the U.S.
Columbus’ explorer history was not as shiny as the gold he was responsible for bringing back gold to his King and Queen. When he depleted the gold source from both the land and its people, he decided to go into the slave trade. Besides being sold into slavery the Taíno were also tortured, raped and killed by the 1,000’s.
Columbus’s legacy therefore is him being the “godfather of terrorism, genocide and colonization.” Not the same rosy picture I nor you learned in our History lessons.
We have wrongly not called these people Indigenous. Remember the fact when Columbus thought he was landing in India and named the Indigenous people Indians? To add further insult to the Indigenous people they would also be referred to as Native Americans. Once again the word American came from another Italian, an explorer and map maker, Amerigo Vespucci who also never stepped foot in our country.
Columbus totally disregarded the island’s name of Hispaniola and renamed it Isabela for his Queen. Colonization reared its ugly head in many ways including its conversion of the people they called ‘savages’ . We weren’t taught it was the colonizers who were the savages.
And our savage colonization mentality and behavior continued throughout centuries. Besides forcing religious conversions, indigenous children were stolen in later years only to place them in Indian boarding schools with horrid conditions, where their language was forbidden as were their traditional dress and values. This made their re entry into their own communities very difficult.
As late as the 70’s, children were placed with white families because our social workers only used a white cultural norm critieria. Legislation had to be enacted for custodial care to first be in their own communities.
“Statistics of missing and murdered U.S. Indigenous women number 5712. Our Indigenous women are 2.5 x more like to have sexually assaulted women. 4 out of 5 indigenous women are affected by violence while homicide is the leading cause of death for Indigenous women ages 10 to 24.”
We have broken every treaty we had with our indigenous people.
There are over 500 tribes recognized in the states today. In Wisconsin we have 6 . Ojibwe (Chippewa)consisting of 6 smaller groups by where they live :Lac Courte Oreilles, Lac du Flambeau, Red Cliff, Bad River, Mole Lake, and St Croix .
In addition to Ojibwe there are also Menominee, Ho-Chunk, Potawatami, Oneida and Stockbridge-Mohican /Brotherton. The Brotherton tribe wasn’t originally here but had been moved 5 x and decided to settle here. They walked all the way from the east coast.
Knowing now what we do it makes sense to not have Columbus Day to martyrize a terrorist, right? We should honor the Indigenous People who have let us live on their land.
We certainly have committed way too many injustices. It’s time to make amends.
*photos borrowed from FaceBook postings.
- Kudos to one of our city’s many activities yesterday in celebration of Indigenous Day 2019, Elizabeth Digby-Britten for the information presented above in her presentation of ” Why There is a Need for Change.”