Call out Columbus Day.
For many people, this coming Monday, October 9th represents a day off from work or closed post offices due to the fact that the federal government observes Columbus Day. However, this nationally-recognized holiday also represents a celebration of genocide of the Indigenous People of this country. A growing number of cities, states, and counties are moving to include in this country’s narrative the contributions of Indigenous people in North America on Columbus Day. Today’s #DailyRevolution is to call your city councilperson or governor’s office to demand that Columbus Day be recognized as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day began in Berkeley, California as a counter-celebration to Columbus Day in 1992, and an opportunity to recognize and honor the contributions and culture of the Indigenous People in this country. The list of cities, counties and states observing Indigenous Peoples’ Day is growing rapidly -- Los Angeles County and Salt Lake City just joined the ranks yesterday! While the United Nations established August 9th as the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, the fact that Columbus’s arrival in North America is still celebrated as a discovery of the Americas rather than colonization remains, and thus the growing movement to challenge Columbus Day. Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day does not constitute the erasure of the contributions of Columbus and Italian-Americans to our culture, but acknowledges those who were here before.
When Columbus arrived at what is now known as the Bahamas, he was greeted by the Arawak Indians, who brought him food, water, and gifts. His first impressions of the Arawak, as recorded in his log, are very telling of the systematic mistreatment and slaughter that would subsequently occur: “They would make fine servants.... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”
Because the Arawak Indians had an oral culture, there are no written records chronicling their experiences as they and other Indigenous tribes encountered Western civilization, and were met with slavery, rape, and murder. However, the numbers speak for themselves. According to Howard Zinn’s essay “Columbus and Western Civilization,” it is estimated that at the time of Columbus’s arrival in Hispaniola in 1492, there were approximately 300,000 Indigenous people in the area. By 1508, records show only 60,000 were alive. The official Spanish historian of the conquest, Oviedo, estimated that a maximum of 500 Indigenous people remained in Hispaniola by 1548.
Raise your voice and set the record straight, whether at a city or state level. Call your city councilperson or governor’s office and demand that Columbus Day be recognized as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
** Please be courteous, and if you have to leave a message, be sure to leave your city/state/zip code to be tallied! The quicker you get your calls in, the more opportunities there are for other callers to get through.**
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