‘All Indians Are Dead?’ At Least That’s What Most Schools Teach Children

pilgrims-and-indians

 

Alysa Landry, Indian Country Today

 

It’s time to break out the construction paper and synthetic feathers.

Students in schools across the country this month will learn about the first Thanksgiving, perpetuating a fairy tale about struggling pilgrims and the friendly Indians who shared a harvest banquet. This usually follows Columbus Day instruction that is similarly celebratory.

But for the vast majority of elementary and secondary students, lessons like these may be the only time they learn about American Indians at all. A staggering 87 percent of references to American Indians in all 50 states’ academic standards portray them in a pre-1900 context.

That means students are graduating from high school without even basic knowledge of contemporary Native challenges or culture, said Sarah Shear, associate professor of social studies education at Pennsylvania State University in Altoona. Shear, who this year earned a PhD in learning, teaching and curriculum from the University of Missouri, spent two years examining state-mandated U.S. history standards, coding each state six times in an effort to understand what students are learning about Natives.

The project began when Shear was teaching an undergraduate class in multi-cultural education. When she asked what students knew about America’s indigenous people, hands shot into the air.

“What they told me is that they learned about Thanksgiving and Columbus Day,” she said. “Every once in a while a student would mention something about the Trail of Tears. It was incredibly frustrating. They were coming to college believing that all Indians are dead.”

Shear partnered with other researchers to analyze states’ academic standards, lengthy documents that dictate what topics teachers should emphasize, including names of important people, dates, events and concepts. Textbook authors often tailor materials to meet those standards.

The study revealed a shameful lack of meaningful Native content, Shear said.

“All of the states are teaching that there were civil ways to end problems and that the Indian problem was dealt with nicely,” she said. “They’re teaching that this is what needed to happen in order for the United States to become the United States. The conflict had to be dealt with in order to manifest destiny. The relationship with Indians was a means to an end.”

The study also revealed that all 50 states lack any content about current Native events or challenges.

“Nothing about treaties, land rights, water rights,” Shear said. “Nothing about the fact that tribes are still fighting to be recognized and determine sovereignty.”

In some states, politics plays a huge role in determining academic standards, Shear said. Politicians, not educators, decide the “grand story” that teachers will tell students. In other states, standards may be simply—and shockingly—out of date. Either way, Shear said, the effect is a white-washing of history, a focus on the Euro-American story that is so narrow there’s no room for an indigenous narrative.

While state standards highlight topics that must be covered in the classroom, teachers still have leeway to tailor lessons or add content, said Tony Castro, assistant professor of social studies education at the University of Missouri. Castro, who served as a faculty assistant to Shear’s research project, said he was disappointed with the findings.

RELATED: 7 Things Teachers Need to Know About Native American Heritage Month

RELATED: Native American Heritage Month Resources for Teachers

“This kind of curriculum, these misconceptions, all that has led to the invisibilization of indigenous people,” he said. “What we teach acts as a mirror to what we value and what we recognize as legitimate. These standards are perpetuating a misconception and are continuing to marginalize groups of people and minimize the concerns or issues those people have about being full citizens in the American democracy.”

Shear’s research is being published in an upcoming issue of Theory & Research in Social Education. Meanwhile, here’s a snapshot of her findings:

Across all the states, 87 percent of references to Natives portray them prior to 1900, with no clear vision of what happened after that.

In half of the states, no individual Natives or specific tribes are named.

Of the Natives named in standards, the most common are Sacagawea, Squanto, Sequoyah and Sitting Bill.

Only 62 Native nations are named in standards; most are mentioned by only one state. One nation, the Iroquois, is mentioned in six states.

Only four states—Arizona, Washington, Oklahoma and Kansas—include content about Indian boarding schools.

New Mexico is the only state to mention, by name, a member of the American Indian Movement.

Washington is the only state to use the word “genocide” in relation to Natives. That word is used in the standards for fifth grade U.S. history.

Nebraska textbooks portray Natives as lazy, drunk or criminal.

Ninety-percent of all manuscripts written about Native people are authored by non-Native writers.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/11/17/all-indians-are-dead-least-thats-what-most-schools-teach-children-157822

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

The Rise of Indigenous Peoples Day

By Matt Remle, Indian Country Today Media Network

On October 6, 2014, in a packed Seattle city hall council chambers room, the Seattle city council voted unanimously to rename the second Monday in October, the federal holiday Columbus Day, to Indigenous Peoples’ Day for the city of Seattle. The room erupted in emotion with loud cheers, the sound of drums and the sight of over joyed, smiling and crying faces followed by an impromptu singing of the AIM song in the halls of Seattle city hall.

The Seattle city council vote followed the previous weeks unanimous vote by the Seattle school board to both establish the second Monday in October as a day of observance for Indigenous Peoples’ and to make a board commitment to the teaching of tribal history, culture, governance and current affairs into the Seattle public schools system.

The origins for both the Seattle city council and Seattle school board resolutions date back to 2011, when I was attending an Abolish Columbus Day rally in downtown Seattle. As I was listening to the beautiful songs of a local canoe family, I started thinking about South Dakota and their successful effort to change Columbus Day to Native American Day. That night I decided to contact members of the Seattle city council, as well as, my local State Legislatures to see if they might be willing to do something similar on either the City or State level.

To my surprise, the following morning I got a phone call from Washington State Senator Margarita Prentice and proceeded to have a long conversation about the genocide brought by Columbus to our Native relatives in the Caribbean and how she would love to sponsor a resolution on the State level. She simply asked that I draft a resolution and seek support from area tribes first before she would sponsor the resolution.

Elated, I immediately contacted Theresa Sheldon and Deborah Parker from Tulalip, who were both policy analyst for the Tulalip Tribes at that time, and whom currently sit on the Tulalip Board of Directors, to let them know the news. They agreed to take the resolution to the 2011 Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians annual conference and put the Indigenous Peoples’ Day resolution before the conference for a vote. The resolution was unanimously approved, and although the resolution ultimately did not succeed on the State level, the seeds of the Indigenous Peoples’ Day resolution for Seattle were sown.

When Minneapolis approved its Indigenous Peoples’ Day resolution in the early spring of 2014, I figured now might be a good time to revive our efforts in Seattle especially given that we had two new Seattle city council members who had been responsive to the needs and issues of Seattle’s Native community. I again reached out to the Seattle city council members and before the day was over council member Kshama Sawant responded back that she would sponsor an Indigenous Peoples’ Day resolution and asked if I would draft one for her.

I drafted a resolution and sent it out to other members of Seattle’s Native community for additional input. From there a grassroots effort was underway to build broad base support for the resolution. By the time the resolution was presented to the Seattle city council for vote, we gained the endorsement of forty various community organizations, non-profits, human rights organizations, local and national tribal organizations and letters of support from numerous area tribes.

In drafting the resolution, one thought was that we should be pushing for something more than just the renaming of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, so language was included to have the Seattle city council “encourage” the Seattle public schools to adopt the guidelines established by the 2005 H.B. 1495 and the subsequent Since Time Immemorial Tribal Sovereignty curriculum [STI] that was developed out of it.

Many within the Native community had tried for years to get the Seattle public schools to adopt the STI curriculum, but had always been met with resistance. We figured if we could get the Seattle city council to pass a resolution calling on the school district to adopt the curriculum, we would have good leverage to pressure the school board to adopt it.

Over the summer, a letter was sent to the Seattle school board from the Seattle Human Rights Commission, an early resolution backer, to inform them of the efforts being worked on with the Seattle city council surrounding the Indigenous Peoples’ Day resolution and to encourage them to align efforts with the city to meet the goals of the proposed resolution.

In late July, I was contacted by the Seattle city council and was told that they were ready to put the resolution to the full council for vote. I was given two possible dates to introduce the resolution, one in August and one in September. Since the September date fell on the day before school started in the Seattle area, we went for the September date knowing that we would most likely generate wide-spread media attention and given that Columbus is often one of the things students learn about first, we figured this would be a good strategy to get the evils committed by Columbus on the minds of students.

Up until the September 2, Seattle city council hearing we largely kept the Indigenous Peoples’ Day resolution from the media spotlight. Days before the council meeting we released a press release on the Last Real Indians webpage, whom I am write for. The idea was that we would be asserting our voice on this issue and establish the framework for which the issue would be discussed on our own terms. As the massive rally descended upon the Seattle city council hearing on September 2, the mainstream press was playing a game of catch up on our resolution that had already generated Turtle Island-wide buzz amongst Native communities.

While a decision was made on September 2 to hold the vote off until October 6, we were able to secure the endorsement of Seattle’s Mayor Ed Murray a generated nationwide attention on our Indigenous Peoples’ Day resolution.

Throughout September, we keep up a steady stream of pressure on both the Seattle city council and Seattle school board with emails, petitions, phone calls, and letters of endorsement from area Tribes and other supporters, as well as, built broad support through social media campaigning.

For me personally, it was phenomenal to see such a concerted and collaborative joint effort develop between Seattle’s urban Native community, Tribe’s and Tribal leaders. By time the October 1 Seattle school board vote and the October 6 Seattle city council vote came around a true urban and Tribal partnership was firmly established. The Seattle city council vote saw testimony given from tribal leaders David Bean (Puyallup), Fawn Sharp (President of both the Quinualt Indian Nation and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians), Mel Sheldon (former Chair of the Tulalip Tribes), as well as, numerous members of Seattle’s urban Native community.

Throughout the whole process, we keep the perspective that we are simply part of a larger movement being fought on the local grassroots level to not only abolish Columbus Day, but see our communities rise up and assert our own voices on our own terms on issues of importance to us.

We sought to show the power our communities possess when we come together unified under the belief and knowledge that what we do today is both work to heal past generations and lift the spirits of our future generations.

Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Mitakuye oyasin.

Matt Remle (Lakota) lives in Seattle.  He works for the office of Indian Education in the Marysville/Tulalip school district. He is a writer for Last Real Indians @ www.lastrealindians.com and runs an online Lakota language program at www.LRInspire.com. He is a father of three and the author of Seattle’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day resolution.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/10/13/rise-indigenous-peoples-day

Seattle Poised to Replace Columbus Day With Indigenous Peoples’ Day

WikipediaThe City of Seattle is poised to get rid of Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous People's Day

Wikipedia
The City of Seattle is poised to get rid of Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous People’s Day

 

Richard Walker, Indian Country Today, 9/23/14

 

The City of Seattle is soon expected to abolish Columbus Day and make the second Monday in October Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Jeff Reading, communications director for Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, said the City Council’s vote on the change is timed so Murray can sign the resolution on October 13. Reading said there will be cultural celebration at the signing, and indigenous leaders will be invited to speak.

Tulalip Tribes Council member Theresa Sheldon said it’s past time to stop honoring Christopher Columbus, whose exploration of the Caribbean for Spain included enslavement, rape, mutilation and murder.

“On behalf of all our indigenous and non-indigenous ancestors who established the United States of America, it’s a true blessing and about time that all citizens of [the] USA and the City of Seattle support the changing of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day,” Sheldon said.

“Columbus fed newborn babies to his dogs. He cut off the hands of the indigenous people if they refused to be his slave[s] … [He] started a sex trade of 10- to 12-year-old girls for men of privilege to rape.”

She added, “The notion that these Indigenous Peoples had no rights under the Spanish king and their religion, so these acts of terror were acceptable, is completely un-American. We would never support such a villain today. This is the first step in correcting the true history of the United States and recognizing the serious wrongs that were done to a beautiful and loving people, the indigenous people of the [Caribbean].”

RELATED: 8 Myths and Atrocities About Christopher Columbus and Columbus Day

Matt Remle, a Hunkpapa Lakota educator and writer, lobbied the Seattle City Council to abolish Columbus Day and establish Indigenous Peoples’ Day, winning the co-sponsorship of council members Bruce Harrell and Kshama Sawant. The council was expected to approve the resolution at its September 2 meeting, but held off because the mayor is required to sign resolutions within 10 days of approval and Murray wants to sign it on October 13.

Remle said the resolution is supported and/or endorsed by 12 organizations and government agencies, including the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, the Seattle Human Rights Commission, the Northwest Indian Bar Association, the Swinomish Tribe, the Tulalip Tribes, and the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation.

Remle said he hopes the resolution will “strongly encourage” Seattle Public Schools to adopt indigenous history curricula, as recommended in 2005 by state House Bill 1495 sponsored by Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip; will encourage businesses, organizations and public institutions to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day; and will help promote the well-being and growth of Seattle’s indigenous community.

When signed, Seattle will be one of a growing number of local and state governments to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of Columbus Day. Others include the California cities of Berkeley, Santa Cruz, and Sebastopol; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Dane County, Wisconsin; and the states of Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, and South Dakota. Iowa, Nevada and Oklahoma do not observe Columbus Day; most indigenous nations in Oklahoma observe Native American Day instead of Columbus Day.

Remle first tried to get the Seattle City Council to adopt Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2010 or 2011. “The City Council at that time was unresponsive,” he said. His efforts attracted the attention of Margarita Lopez Prentice, who represented parts of Seattle and five neighboring cities in the state Senate. She tried to get a similar measure approved on the state level—at her urging, Remle got a draft resolution endorsed by the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians—but she couldn’t get enough votes for approval in the legislature.

Remle said the effort was re-sparked in April this year when the Minneapolis City Council approved a resolution abolishing Columbus Day and establishing Indigenous Peoples’ Day “to better reflect the experiences of American Indian people and uplift our country’s Indigenous roots, history, and contributions.”

“Part of what we’re pushing for is we want a true and accurate history of [Indigenous Peoples] taught in our schools,” said Remle, the Native American liaison in the Marysville School District near Tulalip.

His daughter attends Chief Sealth High School in Seattle, named for the 19th century leader of the Duwamish and Suquamish peoples and first signer of the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott, which made a large chunk of western Washington available for non-Native settlement.

And yet, “there’s zero mention” in the school’s curriculum of the indigenous history of the region, Remle said. According to the school’s course catalog, a course in U.S. history gives “special attention … to the impact of western expansion on Native American cultures and patterns of migration in the late 1800s.” A History of the Americas course “investigates major themes in portions of the history of North America, the Caribbean, and South America such as independence movements, leadership, and domestic policy in the first year.” A World History course begins with a look “at the global convergence that begins around 1450 and is symbolized by the journey of Christopher Columbus.”

For more than a century, Native Americans have attended schools where the common curriculum repeats “myriad myths and historical lies that have been used through the ages to dehumanize Indians, justifying the theft of our lands, the attempted destruction of our nations and the genocide against our people,” as stated in a 1991 American Indian Movement position statement about Columbus Day. Such teachings have done little to close the achievement gap among Native American students, eliminate stereotypes, and build multicultural awareness.

On the other hand, Remle has seen positive results from the accurate presentation of indigenous history and cultures—cultures that are thriving.

In the district where he works, which is attended by students from the Tulalip Tribes, the on-time graduation rate for Native American students 10 years ago was 35 percent. Since the Marysville School District chose to teach curriculum developed as part of House Bill 1495, that rate is now in the upper 80s and 90s, Remle said.

Another area school is seeing similar success. Chief Kitsap Academy, which is operated by the Suquamish Tribe under a government-to-government agreement with the North Kitsap School District, was one of four district schools or programs—out of 15—to meet math and reading achievement levels required by the No Child Left Behind Act.

And from 1993-96, all students at Seattle’s American Indian Heritage Early College High School graduated and went on to college. Enrollment declined in the ensuing years after the school district merged it with another program, funding was reduced and the district made plans to demolish the school and build a new middle school campus in its place. Plans to demolish the school were rolled back after the city declared it a historical landmark. Advocates are now working on revitalizing the Indian Heritage School program.

View the City of Seattle’s resolution on the city’s website.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/09/23/seattle-poised-replace-columbus-day-indigenous-peoples-day-156997

Seattle City Council sets vote on changing Columbus Day to ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day’

Q13 fox News

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SEATTLE — The Seattle City Council will vote Oct. 6 whether to celebrate   “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” on the same day as the Columbus Day holiday.

A council committee met Wednesday and advanced the resolution that would recognize the day on the second Monday in October in Seattle.

“We know Columbus Day is a federal holiday, we are not naive about that, but what we can do and what you have seen is a movement,” said Matt Remle, supporter of the Indigenous Peoples’ Day designation.

During the committee meeting, Italian Americans expressed their concerns. Many of them support Indigenous Peoples’ Day, but believe it should not replace Columbus Day.

“For most Italian Americans, Columbus Day is a symbol of pride in our heritage,” said Audrey Manzanares.

Many of those who spoke to the council committee did not attend the first hearing. In early September, the council delayed the decision.

As the council considers the change, Seattle Public Schools is in a similar situation.

District leaders were scheduled to discuss recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day at a board meeting Wednesday night.

“The city and a few other organizations have put it forward to us and requested our alignment in this work,” said Shauna Heath, of Seattle Public Schools.

Supporters of the measure expect the City Council to pass it.

“Hopefully, we will get a unanimous vote and honor native people, indigenous peoples, in this area,” said Remle.

Stevens and Leecy: Establish a Native American Heritage Day

 

Source: Indianz.com

Ernie Stevens and Kevin Leecy, the chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Indian Gaming Association, call for the creation of Native American Heritage Day:

As the chairman and vice chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association, we offer this Columbus Day message on behalf of the 184 tribes that form our organization. Throughout this great and diverse Nation, there are certain holidays that carry more weight for certain segments of our nation than for others. This is true for Indian people as well. There are certain holidays that generate discussion amongst our Tribal citizens and their tribal governments because they speak to our place in the history of this great democracy. Columbus Day is certainly one of those holidays. Indian people have their own governments, cultures, societies, and values that were in place long before we were supposedly “discovered.” Our status as preexisting sovereign nations is acknowledged in the Constitution of the United States in three separate sections. The treaties our ancestors signed with the United States are still in force today and are as the Constitution states: “The supreme law of the land.” Tribes have great respect for the preservation of our roles as separate sovereigns under the Constitution and at the same time Indian people are proud American citizens as shown through our high rates of participation in military service to this nation. Tribes are determined to uphold their rights assured through the treaties with the United States of America and to ensure that our children are provided with accurate historical accounts of our families, societies, governments, and status as separate nations, as well as our true place in world history.

Get the Story:
Ernest L. Stevens Jr. & Kevin Leecy: NIGA Talks About Columbus Day and the History of Indian Country (Indian Country Today 10/14)

Chile indigenous groups mark Columbus Day with protests

Some of the protesters threw rocks and other objects at police after the main, peaceful march earlier Saturday. Photo: Luis Hidalgo/AP

Some of the protesters threw rocks and other objects at police after the main, peaceful march earlier Saturday. Photo: Luis Hidalgo/AP

13 October, 2013. Source: Al Jazeera

Protesters clashed with police in Chile’s capital Saturday during an anti-Columbus Day march organized by Indigenous groups, with activists calling for the return of ancestral lands and the right to self-determination on the 521-year anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the Americas.

Demonstrators in Santiago threw rocks and other objects at police who responded with water cannons. At least 10 protesters were detained by police, local media reported.

More than 15,000 people participated in the march, organized by the country’s largest indigenous group, the Mapuches, who have been in a long struggle with the government over ancestral land taken from them during colonization.

While Columbus Day celebrations took place across Latin America, the Mapuche affirmed, “we have nothing to celebrate”, according to the Santiago Times.

A press release by the group complained of mistreatment by the state, particularly against Mapuche political prisoners, and on-going land disputes in the south.

On Wednesday, a major police operation cleared indigenous occupants from disputed land in Ercilla, in southern Chile, and eight Mapuche activists were arrested. Witnesses said the police response was aggressive and unprovoked, the Santiago Times reported.

The Mapuche people have been fighting to accelerate the process of repatriation of traditional lands. The government has said it will return some of the land, but the process has been slow and the perceived inaction has been met with demonstrations and occasional violence.

Mapuche protesters have been treated as ‘terrorists’ by the Chilean government — which uses an anti-terrorism law against them. Thousands of Mapuche and their supporters demanded an end to the application of this law on Mapuche land activists in peaceful marches Saturday.

The U.N. urged Chile to stop applying the anti-terrorism law against the Mapuche in July.

“The anti-terrorism law has been used in a manner that discriminates against the Mapuche,” U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism Ben Emmerson said in a press release. “It has been applied in a confused and arbitrary fashion that has resulted in real injustice, has undermined the right to a fair trial, and has been perceived as stigmatizing and de-legitimizing the Mapuche land claims and protests.”

Though the Mapuche resisted Spanish conquest for 300 years and wish to be autonomous, in the late 19th century they were defeated militarily and forced into Araucania, south of the Bio-Bio river — about 350 miles south of Santiago. Most live in poverty on the fringes of timber companies or ranches owned by the descendants of those who arrived to the region in the late 1800s from Europe.

Another anti-Columbus Day protest took place Saturday in Mexico City, where people from various indigenous groups marched peacefully to observe “Dia de la Raza,” or Indigenous People’s Day, as Columbus Day is called in Mexico.

“Indigenous people are in resistance because we are survivors after 500 years of the European invasion,” Leonico Macuixle, a demonstrator, told The Associated Press. “They came to take from us our culture, our language, they built Catholic churches in our sacred places.”

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