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Columbus Day?!

I'm not usually one to write trite articles just to spark a discussion, but I'm going to in this case.
Christopher Columbus was a violent despot of a conquistador. This is historical fact that even the most conservative historians will not argue against (although they may not use such harsh, yet accurate wording). He was responsible for the deaths of tens (perhaps hundreds, indirectly) of millions of indigenous peoples amongst the caribbean islands (sometimes referred to the West Indies). To further illustrate this point, here are a few excerpts from a history of his misadventures in our neck of the woods (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Columbus for a good starting point into doing research on him.):
The Native Americans he encountered, the Ta?no or Arawak, were peaceful and friendly. In his log for October 14, 1492, Columbus drafted a letter to Ferdinand and Isabella concerning the Ta?no:
Vuestras Altezas cuando mandaren puedenlos todos llevar a Castilla o tenellos en la misma isla captivos, porque con cincuenta hombres los ternan todos sojuzgados, les haran hazar todo lo que quisieren. ("When your highnesses should so command, all of them can be brought to Castile, or be kept captive on their own island, for with fifty men you will keep them all in subjugation and make them do anything you wish.")
This is an excerpt from the details of his second voyage:
The main objective of Columbus's journey had been gold. To further this goal, he imposed a system on the natives in Cicao on Haiti, whereby all those above fourteen years of age had to find a certain quota of gold, which would be signified by a token placed around their necks. Those who failed to reach their quota would have their hands chopped off. Despite such extreme measures, Columbus did not manage to obtain much gold. One of the primary reasons for this was the native susceptibility to European diseases.
Columbus used the idea that these "new peoples" were savage heathens to justify subjugating and ultimately decimating their populations. He was furthermore an idiot who couldn't tell the difference between a Roman mile and a nautical mile, couldn't properly manage a capitalist venture to his own benefit, and maintained to the end of his days (even after being decidedly proven wrong) that he had in fact landed to the near-West of India rather than in some previously undiscovered (by Europeans of his society) land. With all this being a matter of public knowledge, I find the fact that the government of the United States still chooses to revere him with a holliday and various namesakes (not the least of which include the nation's capital, Washington, District of COLUMBIA) to have progressed beyond patent ridiculosity and into the realm of the surreal. My opinion of the intellectual capacity of my coinhabitants of this land mass steadily declines with each year that passes with this day, the second Monday of October, remaining a government-mandated holliday in this religiously fanatical madman's honor. Argument: Well, Columbus's landing in the New World was of such significance to history that his commemoration is legitimate by virtue of that alone, and moral arguments against history are pointless. Rebuttal: Well, World War Two resulted in the formation of the United Nations, the "dawn of the nuclear age," the start of the Cold War, and the fourth Geneva Convention, but nobody has a Hitler day (aside from NeoNazis, perhaps), do they? And, before you invoke Godwin's Law of Internet Analogies (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law), this argument is exempt because Christopher Columbus CAN actually be held in comparison to Adolf Hitler based on the amount of innocents murdered under his rule.

Denver Action 11.Oct.2004 20:34

Mother of Sam

Here's a story (and link:  http://www.transformcolumbusday.org/index.html ) on the Denver action. I hear that Columbus Day is also a well-loved holiday in Boston. Anyone ever tried protesting it there?

For anyone wanting to support sovereignty, and protest the glorification of colonization & genocide, let's start talking about greeting the Lewis and Clark reenactment. (Here's a link to that:  link to lewisandclarktrail.com)


October 9, 2004
Denver Colorado

Contact: American Indian Movement of Colorado
(303) 871-0463


Today, in the streets of downtown Denver, scores of American Indian Movement members, and our TCD allies were arrested in a principled act of civil resistance to the "Convoy of Conquest" (aka: Columbus Day Parade). Despite any denials by its organizers, the Convoy is a celebration of genocide against the indigenous peoples of the Americas, and it elevates the theft of our homelands, and the murder of our people, to national holiday status. To Colorado AIM this is intolerable and unjustifiable.

Our arrests are designed to expose a corrupt educational, legal and political system that refuses to describe the destruction of millions of indigenous people at the hands of Columbus for what it is: genocide. In a legal and political system that rationalizes and justifies the murder, theft, and ongoing betrayal of our peoples and nations, we, as the victims of such a system are under an obligation to expose such moral and legal bankruptcy, and we actively refuse to cooperate with legalized murder and theft. Our arrests today lay bare the facts (they are not allegations) that Columbus was personally responsible for:

Trading in African slaves prior to his voyage to the Americas in 1492.

Columbus was personally responsible for overseeing a colonial administration that directly led to the death
of millions of indigenous people. (Father Bartolome de Las Casas, an eyewitness and a contemporary of Columbus, estimated that 15 million indigenous people died in the Caribbean prior to 15.

Columbus advanced and expanded the arrogant European "Doctrine of Discovery," claiming that superior, civilized, Christian Europeans and the right to seize and appropriate indigenous peoples territories and resources. This doctrine has been embedded into racist Federal Indian Law, and is applied today in the case of the Western Shoshone in Nevada and the Lakota in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

More importantly, the legacy of Columbus allows the U.S. government to "lose" between $40 and 100 billion in money that the U.S. was to administer for the benefit of individual American Indians. The government has admitted that it deliberately destroyed evidence in the case, and it appears that the U.s. has no intention of finding or accounting for the money that it has stolen. See:  http://www.indiantrust.com/

The Columbus legacy is reflected in the psychology of the War in Iraq as the U.S. military continues to
refer to any territory not under immediate U.S. control as "Indian Country." Anyone who expresses a view other than the accepted, official version is considered to be "off the reservation." Anyone who actually tries to understand the Iraqi people, as opposed to murdering them, is suspected of being a "race traitor" for having "gone native." These small\ examples reveal a much larger and dangerous psychology of the ongoing war by the U.S. against indigenous peoples, and other "infidels and heathens."

As was asked of Dr. Martin Luther King, some may well= ask us today: "Why direct action? Why sit-ins,
marches, and arrests? Isn't negotiation a better path?" King replied, "You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community, which has constantly refused to negotiate, is forced to confront the issue. The purpose of our direct-action program is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation ."

Colorado AIM, like Martin Luther King, believes that tension in the streets can move a community beyond its racist practices. With our arrest and our prosecution by the City of Denver, we intend to go on the offensive, to put Columbus on trial, to put his legacy on trial, to put the City of Denver, the state of Colorado, and the
U.S. itself on trial. We will defend ourselves with an unapologetic political defense in court, and, just as
we did in 1992, and in 2001, we will prevail.

Colorado AIM and our allies do not risk our liberty as a political ploy, or merely as a tactic, we believe
that the time is overdue to challenge the most pervasive, and the most deeply seated source of racism
in the world: the oppression of indigenous peoples. Columbus Day continues to operate as a justification
of racial superiority, and it, in fact, creates demonstrable and verifiable harm to our children, and
to their children.

For further comments on these actions, or on the philosophy behind these statements, please contact Colorado AIM at 303-871-0463 or  denveraim@coloradoaim.com

2004 Transform Columbus Day Alliance