Bellingham council votes to recognize Coast Salish Day

Johnny Moses, a member of the Tulalip Tribe, smiles as he speaks before a signing ceremony by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray for a resolution designating the second Monday in October as Indigenous People's Day, Monday, Oct. 13, 2014, in Seattle. Murray invited city council members and tribal leaders to the Monday afternoon signing ceremony for resolution, which the council approved a week earlier, designating it as a day to celebrate the culture and contributions of Native Americans. The second Monday in October is celebrated nationally as Columbus Day, which also has been a day to celebrate people of Italian heritage. ELAINE THOMPSON — AP Photo

Johnny Moses, a member of the Tulalip Tribe, smiles as he speaks before a signing ceremony by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray for a resolution designating the second Monday in October as Indigenous People’s Day, Monday, Oct. 13, 2014, in Seattle. Murray invited city council members and tribal leaders to the Monday afternoon signing ceremony for resolution, which the council approved a week earlier, designating it as a day to celebrate the culture and contributions of Native Americans. The second Monday in October is celebrated nationally as Columbus Day, which also has been a day to celebrate people of Italian heritage. ELAINE THOMPSON — AP Photo

By Samantha Wohlfeil, The Bellingham Herald

BELLINGHAM — By a 6-0 vote, City Council officially recognized Coast Salish Day on the date federally recognized as Columbus Day at its regular Monday night meeting, Oct. 13.

At the Monday afternoon meeting that fell on the federal holiday, all six council members present said they would support an ordinance recognizing Coast Salish Day on the second Monday of October each year, the same date that is nationally set aside for Columbus Day. Council member Jack Weiss, who joined council members Roxanne Murphy and Terry Bornemann in presenting the ordinance, was absent.

At previous meetings, Murphy had announced she would bring the ordinance forward to honor local tribes on the day many still use to honor explorer Christopher Columbus.

Council received an outpouring of community feedback about the proposal, ranging from people who said, “Pick another day,” to young tribal members who said they are still bullied for how they look, to general support from a variety of community members, Murphy said.

“I’m just hoping we can do right by the negativity the Coast Salish have experienced,” Murphy said.

Neither the city nor the state officially recognize Columbus Day as a holiday. For council member Michael Lilliquist, that meant the recognition of Coast Salish Day would not take anything away from the city but serve to celebrate the city’s historical connection with Coast Salish people.

“The names we use for streets and places here are Coast Salish names,” Lilliquist said. “It’s important to recognize that, not just as something of the past, but something that’s still living today. They’re still here. I’m not really happy with focusing on Columbus. I don’t want to get into that fight.”

Bornemann said he was happy to help Murphy bring the ordinance forward.

“We have a shared history with the Coast Salish people here. … Some of it has not been all that good,” Bornemann said.

Bornemann recalled an incident from many years ago when he was downtown and called 911 for someone who needed medical help. He remembered being asked if the person was Native American.

“I said it was none of their … business, they needed to get someone down there,” Bornemann said.

“I think this is one little step of recognizing what valuable contributions (the Coast Salish people) made to this area, and their long, noble history,” Bornemann continued.

Council members Gene Knutson, Pinky Vargas and Cathy Lehman all voiced their support for the ordinance and thanked Murphy for bringing the proposal to council.

In the future, all second Mondays in October could include the raising of tribal flags at City Hall and events featuring speeches from tribal leaders, along with other traditions the Nooksack Indian Tribe and Lummi Nation or other Coast Salish tribes would like to bring forward, according to a proposal accompanying the city ordinance.

“Most fundamentally,” the proposal reads, “the dream is that all future Coast Salish Days will remove any previous negativity from the former holiday and institute a day of celebration, culture, healing and respect.”

Seattle City Council passed a similar ordinance Oct. 6, recognizing Indigenous People’s Day.

Washington is one of several states that do not celebrate Columbus Day as a legal holiday. Banks and federal government offices are typically closed for the federal holiday. Bellingham city offices will not close for Coast Salish Day.

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2014/10/13/3911107_bellingham-council-poised-to-recognize.html?sp=/99/101/&rh=1#storylink=cpy

Columbus Day? True Legacy: Cruelty and Slavery

By Erik Kasum, Huffington Post

Once again, it’s time to celebrate Columbus Day. Yet, the stunning truth is: If Christopher Columbus were alive today, he would be put on trial for crimes against humanity. Columbus’ reign of terror, as documented by noted historians, was so bloody, his legacy so unspeakably cruel, that Columbus makes a modern villain like Saddam Hussein look like a pale codfish.

Question: Why do we honor a man who, if he were alive today, would almost certainly be sitting on Death Row awaiting execution?

If you’d like to know the true story about Christopher Columbus, please read on. But I warn you, it’s not for the faint of heart.

Here’s the basics. On the second Monday in October each year, we celebrate Columbus Day (this year, it’s on October 11th). We teach our school kids a cute little song that goes: “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” It’s an American tradition, as American as pizza pie. Or is it? Surprisingly, the true story of Christopher Columbus has very little in common with the myth we all learned in school.

Columbus Day, as we know it in the United States, was invented by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal service organization. Back in the 1930s, they were looking for a Catholic hero as a role-model their kids could look up to. In 1934, as a result of lobbying by the Knights of Columbus, Congress and President Franklin Roosevelt signed Columbus Day into law as a federal holiday to honor this courageous explorer. Or so we thought.

There are several problems with this. First of all, Columbus wasn’t the first European to discover America. As we all know, the Viking, Leif Ericson probably founded a Norse village on Newfoundland some 500 years earlier. So, hat’s off to Leif. But if you think about it, the whole concept of discovering America is, well, arrogant. After all, the Native Americans discovered North America about 14,000 years before Columbus was even born! Surprisingly, DNA evidence now suggests that courageous Polynesian adventurers sailed dugout canoes across the Pacific and settled in South America long before the Vikings.

Second, Columbus wasn’t a hero. When he set foot on that sandy beach in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492, Columbus discovered that the islands were inhabited by friendly, peaceful people called the Lucayans, Taínos and Arawaks. Writing in his diary, Columbus said they were a handsome, smart and kind people. He noted that the gentle Arawaks were remarkable for their hospitality. “They offered to share with anyone and when you ask for something, they never say no,” he said. The Arawaks had no weapons; their society had neither criminals, prisons nor prisoners. They were so kind-hearted that Columbus noted in his diary that on the day the Santa Maria was shipwrecked, the Arawaks labored for hours to save his crew and cargo. The native people were so honest that not one thing was missing.

Columbus was so impressed with the hard work of these gentle islanders, that he immediately seized their land for Spain and enslaved them to work in his brutal gold mines. Within only two years, 125,000 (half of the population) of the original natives on the island were dead.

If I were a Native American, I would mark October 12, 1492, as a black day on my calendar.

Shockingly, Columbus supervised the selling of native girls into sexual slavery. Young girls of the ages 9 to 10 were the most desired by his men. In 1500, Columbus casually wrote about it in his log. He said: “A hundred castellanoes are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand.”

He forced these peaceful natives work in his gold mines until they died of exhaustion. If an “Indian” worker did not deliver his full quota of gold dust by Columbus’ deadline, soldiers would cut off the man’s hands and tie them around his neck to send a message. Slavery was so intolerable for these sweet, gentle island people that at one point, 100 of them committed mass suicide. Catholic law forbade the enslavement of Christians, but Columbus solved this problem. He simply refused to baptize the native people of Hispaniola.

On his second trip to the New World, Columbus brought cannons and attack dogs. If a native resisted slavery, he would cut off a nose or an ear. If slaves tried to escape, Columbus had them burned alive. Other times, he sent attack dogs to hunt them down, and the dogs would tear off the arms and legs of the screaming natives while they were still alive. If the Spaniards ran short of meat to feed the dogs, Arawak babies were killed for dog food.

Columbus’ acts of cruelty were so unspeakable and so legendary – even in his own day – that Governor Francisco De Bobadilla arrested Columbus and his two brothers, slapped them into chains, and shipped them off to Spain to answer for their crimes against the Arawaks. But the King and Queen of Spain, their treasury filling up with gold, pardoned Columbus and let him go free.

One of Columbus’ men, Bartolome De Las Casas, was so mortified by Columbus’ brutal atrocities against the native peoples, that he quit working for Columbus and became a Catholic priest. He described how the Spaniards under Columbus’ command cut off the legs of children who ran from them, to test the sharpness of their blades. According to De Las Casas, the men made bets as to who, with one sweep of his sword, could cut a person in half. He says that Columbus’ men poured people full of boiling soap. In a single day, De Las Casas was an eye witness as the Spanish soldiers dismembered, beheaded, or raped 3000 native people. “Such inhumanities and barbarisms were committed in my sight as no age can parallel,” De Las Casas wrote. “My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature that now I tremble as I write.”

De Las Casas spent the rest of his life trying to protect the helpless native people. But after a while, there were no more natives to protect. Experts generally agree that before 1492, the population on the island of Hispaniola probably numbered above 3 million. Within 20 years of Spanish arrival, it was reduced to only 60,000. Within 50 years, not a single original native inhabitant could be found.

In 1516, Spanish historian Peter Martyr wrote: “… a ship without compass, chart, or guide, but only following the trail of dead Indians who had been thrown from the ships could find its way from the Bahamas to Hispaniola.”

Christopher Columbus derived most of his income from slavery, De Las Casas noted. In fact, Columbus was the first slave trader in the Americas. As the native slaves died off, they were replaced with black slaves. Columbus’ son became the first African slave trader in 1505.

Are you surprised you never learned about any of this in school? I am too. Why do we have this extraordinary gap in our American ethos? Columbus himself kept detailed diaries, as did some of his men including De Las Casas and Michele de Cuneo. (If you don’t believe me, just Google the words Columbus, sex slave, and gold mine.)

Columbus’ reign of terror is one of the darkest chapters in our history. The REAL question is: Why do we celebrate a holiday in honor of this man? (Take three deep breaths. If you’re like me, your stomach is heaving at this point. I’m sorry. Sometimes the truth hurts. That said, I’d like to turn in a more positive direction.)

Call me crazy, but I think holidays ought to honor people who are worthy of our admiration, true heroes who are positive role models for our children. If we’re looking for heroes we can truly admire, I’d like to offer a few candidates. Foremost among them are school kids.

Let me tell you about some school kids who are changing the world. I think they are worthy of a holiday. My friend Nan Peterson is the director of the Blake School, a K-12 school in Minnesota. She recently visited Kenya. Nan says there are 33 million people in Kenya… and 11 million of them are orphans! Can you imagine that? She went to Kibera, the slum outside Nairobi, and a boy walked up to her and handed her a baby. He said: My father died. My mother died… and I’m not feeling so good myself. Here, take my sister. If I die, they will throw her into the street to die.

There are so many orphans in Kenya, the baby girls are throwaways!

Nan visited an orphanage for girls. The girls were starving to death. They had one old cow that only gave one cup of milk a day. So each girl only got ONE TEASPOON of milk a day!

After this heartbreaking experience, Nan went home to her school in Minnesota and asked the kids… what can we do? The kids got the idea to make homemade paper and sell it to buy a cow. So they made a bunch of paper, and sold the paper, and when they were done they had enough money to buy… FOUR COWS! And enough food to feed all of the cows for ONE FULL YEAR! These are kids… from 6 years old to 18… saving the lives of kids halfway around the world. And I thought: If a 6-year-old could do that… what could I do?

At Casady School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, seemingly “average” school kids raised $20,000 to dig clean water wells for children in Ethiopia. These kids are heroes. Why don’t we celebrate “Kids Who Are Changing the Planet” Day?

Let me ask you a question: Would we celebrate Columbus Day if the story of Christopher Columbus were told from the point-of-view of his victims? No way!

The truth about Columbus is going to be a hard pill for some folks to swallow. Please, don’t think I’m picking on Catholics. All the Catholics I know are wonderful people. I don’t want to take away their holiday or their hero. But if we’re looking for a Catholic our kids can admire, the Catholic church has many, many amazing people we could name a holiday after. How about Mother Teresa day? Or St. Francis of Assisi day? Or Betty Williams day (another Catholic Nobel Peace Prize winner). These men and women are truly heroes of peace, not just for Catholics, but for all of us.

Let’s come clean. Let’s tell the truth about Christopher Columbus. Let’s boycott this outrageous holiday because it honors a mass murderer. If we skip the cute song about “In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue,” I don’t think our first graders will miss it much, do you? True, Columbus’ brutal treatment of peaceful Native Americans was so horrific… maybe we should hide the truth about Columbus until our kids reach at least High School age. Let’s teach it to them about the same time we tell them about the Nazi death camps.

While we’re at it, let’s rewrite our history books. From now on, instead of glorifying the exploits of mass murderers like Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, and Napoleon Bonaparte, let’s teach our kids about true heroes, men and women of courage and kindness who devoted their lives to the good of others. There’s a long list, starting with Florence Nightingale, Mahatma Gandhi, Rev. Martin Luther King, and John F. Kennedy.

These people were not adventurers who “discovered” an island in the Caribbean. They were noble souls who discovered what is best in the human spirit.

Why don’t we create a holiday to replace Columbus Day?

Let’s call it Heroes of Peace Day.

8 Myths and Atrocities About Christopher Columbus and Columbus Day

 Columbus and his men hunted Natives with war-dogs.

Columbus and his men hunted Natives with war-dogs.

By Vincent Schilling, Indian Country Today Media Network

On the second Monday of October each year, Native Americans cringe at the thought of honoring a man who committed atrocities against Indigenous Peoples.

Columbus Day was conceived by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic Fraternal organization, in the 1930s because they wanted a Catholic hero. After President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the day into law as a federal holiday in 1937, the rest has been history.

In an attempt to further thwart the celebration of this “holiday,” we at ICTMN have outlined eight misnomers and bloody, greedy, sexually perverse and horrendous atrocities committed by Columbus and his men.

On the Way—Columbus Stole a Sailor’s Reward

After obtaining funding for his explorations to reach Asia from the seizure and sale of properties from Spanish Jews and Muslims by order of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, Columbus headed out to explore a new world with money and ships.

Brimming with the excitement of discovering new land, Columbus offered a reward of 10,000 maravedis or about $540 (a sailor’s yearly salary) for the first person to discover such land. Though another sailor saw the land in October 1492, Columbus retracted the reward he had previously offered because he claimed he had seen a dim light in the west.

Replicas of the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria in the North River, New York. They crossed from Spain to be present at the World's Fair at Chicago. (Andrews, E. Benjamin. History of the United States, volume V. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York. 1912/Wikimedia)
Replicas of the Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria in the North River, New York. They crossed from Spain to be present at the World’s Fair at Chicago. (Andrews, E. Benjamin. History of the United States, volume V. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York. 1912/Wikimedia)

Columbus Never Landed on American Soil—Not in 1492, Not Ever

We’re not talking about the Leif Ericson Viking explorer story.  We mean Columbus didn’t land on the higher 48—ever. Columbus quite literally landed in what is now known as the Bahamas and later Hispaniola, present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Upon arrival, Columbus and his expedition of weapon laden Spaniards met the Arawaks, Tainos and Lucayans—all friendly, according to Columbus’ writings. Soon after arriving, Columbus wrecked the Santa Maria and the Arawaks worked for hours to save the crew and cargo.

Impressed with the friendliness of the native people, Columbus seized control of the land in the name of Spain. He also helped himself to some locals. In his journal he wrote:

“As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts.”

RELATED: American History Myths Debunked: Columbus Discovered America

The four voyages of Columbus are shown here. (Wikimedia Commons)
The four voyages of Columbus are shown here. (Wikimedia Commons)

Columbus Painted a Horrible Picture of Peaceful Natives

When Columbus first saw the Native Arawaks that came to greet him and his crew he spoke with a peaceful and admiring tone.

“They … brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things… They willingly traded everything they owned…  They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features…. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane… . They would make fine servants…. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

After several months in the Caribbean, on January 13, 1493 two Natives were murdered during trading. Columbus, who had otherwise described the Natives as gentle people wrote “(they are) evil and I believe they are from the island of Caribe, and that they eat men.” He also described them as “savage cannibals, with dog-like noses that drink the blood of their victims.”

The cannibal story is taught as fact in some of today’s schools.

Columbus’ Men Were Rapists and Murderers

On Columbus’s first trip to the Caribbean, he later returned to Spain and left behind 39 men who went ahead and helped themselves to Native women. Upon his return the men were all dead.

This painting of Christopher Columbus was done in 1519 by Sebastiano del Piombo. (Wikimedia Commons)
This painting of Christopher Columbus was done in 1519 by Sebastiano del Piombo. (Wikimedia Commons)

With 1,200 more soldiers at his disposal, rape and pillaging became rampant as well as tolerated by Columbus.

This is supported by a reported close friend of Columbus, Michele de Cuneo who wrote the first disturbing account of a relation between himself and a Native female gift given to him by Columbus.

“While I was in the boat I captured a very beautiful Carib woman, whom the said Lord Admiral gave to me, and with whom, having taken her into my cabin, she being naked according to their custom, I conceived desire to take pleasure. I wanted to put my desire into execution but she did not want it and treated me with her finger nails in such a manner that I wished I had never begun. But seeing that (to tell you the end of it all), I took a rope and thrashed her well, for which she raised such unheard of screams that you would not have believed your ears. Finally we came to an agreement in such manner that I can tell you that she seemed to have been brought up in a school of harlots.”

Several accounts of cruelty and murder include Spaniards testing the sharpness of blades on Native people by cutting them in half, beheading them in contests and throwing Natives into vats of boiling soap. There are also accounts of suckling infants being lifted from their mother’s breasts by Spaniards, only to be dashed headfirst into large rocks.

Bartolome De Las Casas, a former slave owner who became Bishop of Chiapas, described these exploits. “Such inhumanities and barbarisms were committed in my sight as no age can parallel,” he wrote. “My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature that now I tremble as I write.”

Columbus Enslaved the Native People for Gold

Because Columbus reported a plethora of Natives for slaves, rivers of gold and fertile pastures to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, Columbus was given 17 ships and more than 1,200 men on his next expedition. However, Columbus had to deliver. In the next few years, Columbus was desperate to fulfill those promises—hundreds of Native slaves died on their way back to Spain and gold was not as bountiful as expected.

Christopher Columbus presents Native Americans to Queen Isabella.
Christopher Columbus presents Native Americans to Queen Isabella.

Columbus forced the Natives to work in gold mines until exhaustion. Those who opposed were beheaded or had their ears cut off.

In the provinces of Cicao all persons over 14 had to supply at least a thimble of gold dust every three months and were given copper necklaces as proof of their compliance. Those who did not fulfill their obligation had their hands cut off, which were tied around their necks while they bled to death—some 10,000 died handless.

In two years’ time, approximately 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead. Many deaths included mass suicides or intentional poisonings or mothers killing their babies to avoid persecution.

According to Columbus, in a few years before his death, “Gold is the most precious of all commodities; gold constitutes treasure, and he who possesses it has all he needs in the world, as also the means of rescuing souls from purgatory, and restoring them to the enjoyment of paradise.”

Columbus Provided Native Sex Slaves to His Men

In addition to putting the Natives to work as slaves in his gold mines, Columbus also sold sex slaves to his men—some as young as 9. Columbus and his men also raided villages for sex and sport.

In the year 1500, Columbus wrote: “A hundred castellanoes are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand.”

Columbus’ Men Used Native People as Dog Food

In the early years of Columbus’ conquests there were butcher shops throughout the Caribbean where Indian bodies were sold as dog food. There was also a practice known as the montería infernal, the infernal chase, or manhunt, in which Indians were hunted by war-dogs.

These dogs—who also wore armor and had been fed human flesh, were a fierce match for the Indians. Live babies were also fed to these war dogs as sport, sometimes in front of horrified parents.

Columbus Returned to Spain in Shackles—But Was Pardoned

After a multitude of complaints against Columbus about his mismanagement of the island of Hispaniola, a royal commissioner arrested Columbus in 1500 and brought him back to Spain in chains.

Though he was stripped of his governor title, he was pardoned by King Ferdinand, who then subsidized a fourth voyage.

RELATED: Christopher Columbus, The Myths Behind the Man

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/10/14/8-myths-and-atrocities-about-christopher-columbus-and-columbus-day-151653